Spreading out the sports calendar

Posted: June 11, 2012 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals are set for tonight, the Kings trying for a third time to clinch their first championship by downing the Devils.

It’s unlikely I’ll be able to watch due to a prior commitment. But that’s nothing new – I have yet to see a second of the action. That’s unfortunate and maybe even weird considering I genuinely like hockey and covered it extensively during my time in Fargo-Moorhead.

The problem: scheduling.

Tonight marks the first time this series that the NHL schedule won’t conflict with the NBA Conference Finals. For as fond as I am about hockey, it’s rarely going to divert me from basketball, especially compelling and close series like Celtics-Heat and Spurs-Thunder. And I bet you a nickel I’m not alone in that.

That goes beyond unfortunate – it’s downright bad for business. Both hockey and basketball would attract better TV ratings if these meaningful games were held on different nights. Hockey, in particular, could use some help in that department given its less-than-ideal TV contract. Of course, this is hardly the first case of super sports overlap, and sometimes a sports smorgasbord can be phenomenal. Saturday, for example, featured Euro 2012, the Belmont Stakes, Game 7 of Celtics-Heat and the Pacquaio-Bradley fight. You can’t beat that (unless the Pacquaio judges are scoring), especially when they’re spread out properly.

So here’s my idea: An international sports schedule.

Under this, we’d create a world scheduling committee, to which each league or governing body would have to reserve a day and/or time on the yearly calendar for their major events. It would be like booking a timeshare, sort of. Multiple must-see games could be held on the same day, of course, just not at the same time. The scheduling committee also would be in charge of deciding what sports are considered major and giving them priority.

This would allow sports fans to not miss out, ensure leagues got optimum ratings and cut down – or maybe even prevent – the sports abyss, that time of year when there’s nothing going on except baseball. It would turn every weekend into an event. (Maybe. It could also make every weekend seem the same, usher in an era of indifference. Now … pretend you didn’t just read that.)

The NCAA has toyed with doing something similar in basketball, considering moving the women’s tournament in order to avoid competing with the men’s tournament.

To be clear, I’m oversimplifying things – it would take time and money to pull off something like this, and at some point corruption would enter the equation. But as there are more and more sports and more and more channels, viewership numbers are shrinking for many sports even if the interest level isn’t. That’s going to have an unnecessary negative impact on the most important line in sports – the bottom line.

We the sports fans of the world, want out cake and we’d like to eat it, too, without interruption.

  1. Jeff says:

    The thing about this is that you are making a very large and perhaps flawed assumption — that leagues care about regular fans. I’m not sure that they do, but maybe that’s just me being cynical.

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