Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Strike that Change Sports

September 16th 2004 started a strike followed by a lockout that would change sports forever. The National Hockey League canceled what would have been its 88th season, and put the already semi-important sport on the fringe of becoming irrelevant. The NHL became the first (and only) sport to cancel and entire season of play. All the details are interesting but not all that important. What is important is that hockey became a damaged sport. ESPN, the monopoly of national sports, decided to drop the NHL from its TV contract.

What came next was believed to be the death of the sport, but has spawned into the birth of something greater. The NHL decided to sign on with Versus (Actually the Outdoor Living Network O.L.N) for a seven year deal. They also signed local deals with Comcast sport networks and in a few markets the fox sports channel. For those seven years ESPN continued to ignore the NHL and actually increased its coverage of other sports such as Nascar and Soccer. It looks like the Versus deal panned out for both sides. The NHL has seen steady attendance increases as well as viewership over those seven years.

Most would think, so what, VS is cable only television channel, and there are less than 10 nationally televised game. The NHL wasnt stupid, it needed a new twist to attract a larger market of viewers. Besides changing the rules to allow more goals as well as to end games in a shootout instead of a draw, they started the Winter Classic. The Winter Classic is viewed on NBC, which has held the contract for the past 4 seasons.  What is of greater interest is that NBC just bought Versus. Another thing to note, Comcast just bought NBC. Recall how I mentioned that the NHL has local deals with Comcast Sports Network.

The NHL contract with Versus expires shortly, and they needed a new contract with a television channel. There were a few bidders, but most notably Versus as well as ESPN made bids for the next 10 seasons. The NHL had "no regrets" with their choice of Versus, and signed up with Versus for the next 10 seasons. With a major sport under its belt, NBC,Versus and Comcast (which are all really the same), decided to test their luck and create the second 24 hour news network. This means that the monopoly of ESPN now has some competition, and they already have their foot in the door with three sports. NBC also owns the rights to the NHL, College Football (Notre Dame) and NFL (Sunday Night Football). It can get enough footage to start a decent competitor.

Now this network could flop, but what it showed was a weakness in ESPN. They did not have faith in the NHL years ago and it may come back to bite them. In the same year ESPN lost the rights to the 2014 world cup to Fox Sports (a much smaller provider). NBC sports network (pending a super cool name , maybe NBCSP or NBSPN) is at least going to have the NHL for the next 10 years and that is something to start.  And it all started because of a strike, a strike that injured a sport, but rebuilt the networks it was shown on. Now only if NBC Sports can get @buster_olney to get insider information

Friday, December 2, 2011

BCS Standoff | Who Should Play who?

Roll Tide! I have to start this post off with that, because I am about to write about why Alabama should not play LSU in the National championship. First and foremost, I respect Alabama, and I like the team. I think it would be a stretch (and bandwagonish) of me to say I'm a fan.

One Game Thats it
Alabama played LSU, you can watch clips and read about it on we hate hockey channel ESPN. The game went into overtime, and Alabama missed a field goals that could have won them the game. However, aren't all of lives just what ifs. Alabama lost, and thats all it takes to not play in the national championship. But not only that, but they lost to the team that is currently number 1. Lets assume that they do meet in the final game for the national championship, and Alabama beats LSU. So who is the national champion? Well LSU would be 11-1 with their only loss coming to Alabama, Alabama would be 11-1 with their only loss coming to LSU, it would be a draw in all sense. But wait, the national championship somehow means more than the regular season game. So LSU is forced to beat the same team twice, and their original win over Alabama really got them... a rematch, which for all intense and purposes got them nothing.

Facts : Oklahoma State DID NOT lose to LSU. So they should get a chance to, and if its a blow out, it just proves that LSU is such a great team.

Why the Playoff System would not solve this
EVERYONE wants a playoff system, expect for the people making millions of dollars of bowl games. So there really isn't a rush to change the current system, and thank god, because that would not fix the problem. There are (roughly including the Independents) 12 conferences. So it would take 4 games, which translate to 4 weeks of playoffs to get a national champion. That would be a lot of time, but so is March Madness. All the other teams would play bowl games a one and done, kinda like it is now. This is what most people agree would solve our problem of "The Bowl System isnt fair".

If we switched to this play-off style, LSU would not play Alabama. LSU would win the national championship   SEC Championship and then enter the bracket that way. So a #1 could actually not play the #2 for the National Championship.

Football is Football| Breathe and Realize
I think its safe to say, football is football and it causes the worst problems! It has a lot of heavy hitting, and a lot time to play out a play-off system. Teams cant really play more than once a week, which would draw out this play-off bracket system.

Power Conferences
No one talks about the Big East, but they are just slightly behind SEC for highest out-conference wins Average. The Football industry, selects teams it wants to play, and finds reasons not to place them into the national championship. What they should be doing is looking at data then deciding who to put in the rankings. To date, the "Computer Poll" still relies 25% of a teams human ranking. That is 1/4 random bias. Needless to say, LSU should not play Alabama in the National Championship.

This is a chart of The Average wins out-of-conference from the teams in the conference.