Bulls & Bears: Pittsburgh Penguins show class in wake of tragedy

 

The Sport Market: Bulls & Bears of sports business

 
 
 
 
Tom Mayenknecht is host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and TSN Radio, where he regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of sports business. He reviews the major winners and losers of the past week in The Vancouver Sun.
 

Tom Mayenknecht is host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and TSN Radio, where he regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of sports business. He reviews the major winners and losers of the past week in The Vancouver Sun.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

BULLS OF THE WEEK

They dropped two straight games to see their eastern conference record fall to 3-2-1, yet the Pittsburgh Penguins were among the week’s biggest winners in the stock market that is the business of sport. What the Penguins did on Wednesday before a loss to Philadelphia was one of the classiest and most thoughtful moves ever made by a pro sport franchise. On the day when political violence, terror and the senseless loss of life gripped Ottawa on the sacred grounds of Parliament Hill, the Penguins — a team with a Canadian co-owner and 11 Canadians on their roster — responded by adding O Canada to their pre-game ceremonies in a symbolic expression of solidarity. They were one of several NHL teams to express their support but they were by far the most explicit and the most meaningful. With the audio of Penguins fans singing the lyrics of O Canada and images of a Consol Energy Center ice surface awash in red maple leafs, conventional and social media did the rest. That is what made the Penguins in particular and professional sport in general the bull-of-the-week. It’s true that the industry of sports entertainment has had a rough year when it comes to ethics and it’s also true that the conduct of some bad apples has tarnished the notion that pro athletes are meaningful role models. Yet on a day when pro sport rightfully took a back seat to the craziness of life and death in Ottawa, it also showed its tremendous strength as community. There is no more robust social network than that created by the TV, radio and social media wrapped around professional sport and that was demonstrated in flying colours this week. Most weeks, that power is drawn from the sheer tribalism of fan engagement. This week, it was inspired by thoughtful and careful consideration. It was a reminder that when pro sports teams give as good as they get — whether through fund raising or in response to crisis or community vulnerability — it can be a very powerful, effective and fundamentally good instrument.

BEARS OF THE WEEK

This MLB post-season has brought us plenty of compelling baseball. It has showcased the Cinderella story of the Kansas City Royals. It has featured a wildcard World Series for only the second time. What it hasn’t done is deliver any growth in TV ratings. Make no mistake, the World Series is still good television and it’s still good business for rights holder FOX Sports. With just 12.2M US viewers for game 1, they lost the night of American television to CBS with a historically low rating of 7.3 for a World Series opener but they bounced back with stronger returns for game 2; a rating of 7.9 and 12.9M viewers. Game 2 went down as the most-watched prime time program on FOX since a February edition of American Idol. Yet the bearishness comes from the overall decline in World Series television. It is simply not what it used to be. A big part of that of course is the market fragmentation that comes from a 5,000 channel universe and the emergence of millions of web broadcast platforms. When the World Series was the biggest deal in sport television in the 1970s (with viewership of more than 50 million fans), the pie was split between three or four US TV networks. In this era of NFL dominance as the new American national pastime, the World Series is fortunate to score north of 15 to 20 million viewers. It did draw 25.4 million for Game 7 of the 2011 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers, but those days are the exceptions rather than the norm.

Listen to The Sport Market on TSN 1040 Saturdays 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Bulls & Bears airs at 9 a.m., followed by Weekend Extra with Sun Sports at 9:30 a.m. Follow Tom Mayenknecht on Twitter @TheSportMarket

 
 
 
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Tom Mayenknecht is host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and TSN Radio, where he regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of sports business. He reviews the major winners and losers of the past week in The Vancouver Sun.
 

Tom Mayenknecht is host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and TSN Radio, where he regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of sports business. He reviews the major winners and losers of the past week in The Vancouver Sun.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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