By Jason Ioli
Still in the afterglow of the Stanley Cup Championship, I didn’t think anything would be able to take that smile off of my face. That all ended, unfortunately, when I snatched this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated out of my mailbox last week and saw this…
Not only were my hopes of framing an SI cover and hanging it in my “Room of Champions” thrown out the window, but they added insult to injury by showing an inset of what my cover should have looked like…
To say I was devastated would be an understatement. I was pissed off and could not sit by idly any longer. Now I don’t know if SI was nice enough to send this cover to the people in the Pittsburgh area as I am not a resident there any more. But if they did, well congratulations SI, you’ve successfully satisfied a small fraction of your hockey fans and insulted the rest.
Now, over the years I have gotten used to hockey being forced to the back burner by every other major sport in America. It gets nowhere near the coverage of football, baseball, or basketball and I’ve had to learn to accept that. But this was the Stanley Cup finals and one of the most exciting finals series in years. And still, it got snubbed by SI and by ESPN.
Now, ESPN tried to throw a bone to hockey fans by, when possible, leading off their late edition of Sports Center with coverage of the finals, but a look at that coverage shows a different story. The history making victory by the Penguins in game seven garnered a whopping 7 minutes and 13 seconds of airtime on Sports Center following the game. And that was with a cup champion being crowned and no NBA games as competition. Now, game six went head-to-head with game three of the NBA finals. That night, the SCF received 9 minutes and 24 seconds of airtime. Can you believe it? Game six got more attention then game seven. Meanwhile, game three of the NBA finals got 42 minutes and 32 seconds of coverage on Sports Center once that game ended. That’s over four times more coverage! But wait, it gets worse. The unopposed game five blowout by the Red Wings got only 6 minutes and 25 seconds of coverage. And, game 4 received 6 minutes and 26 seconds of air versus 49 minutes and 57 seconds for game one of the NBA finals. That is somewhere in the neighborhood of eight times more coverage! Thanks to Sports Business Daily for supplying these jaw dropping numbers. Now, let me get up and brush myself off, because I’m not done.
The fact that the NBA finals got more coverage on ESPN was not all that surprising to me. It was the difference in the amount of attention that a five-game yawnfest where the Lakers demolished the Magic received compared to, arguably, the best seven game Stanley Cup finals series in almost 40 years. And the worst part of this slap in the face by Sports Illustrated is that the cover picture is awful. It is not worthy of a championship edition.
But before we start lighting torches, the disrespect by SI is not finished. You see, every time a major sports championship is handed out, Sports Illustrated offers its “Championship Package.” This usually consists of a hardbound commemorative edition, DVD, and some sort of championship memorabilia. I know this because SI is currently advertising their Lakers championship package. I find it interesting, however, that there is no Penguins championship package. Once again hockey gets the proverbial shaft from a major sports medium.
Well, that’s about all I can take of this. When my subscription to SI runs out this winter, I will not be renewing. And I urge hockey fans everywhere to write to voice your outrage to SI as well. Send them an email, snail mail, or a picture or your backside with the caption “kiss this.” Something so they know that hockey fans are out there and they demand to be heard. While you’re at it, send something out to ESPN as well. They need to know that we demand hockey be given the respect it deserves.
In the famous words of Howard Beale, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
By Jason Ioli