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The Myth of the Organic Sports Narrative


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#1 CarpathianForest

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 01:18 PM

I wanted to start a new thread on this subject because Daniel and I briefly discussed it in the Parise thread and by discuss I mean I brought up the idea that sports organizations bump narratives for profit and he posted a picture of a guy with a tin foil hat on in response. I’ve been on a lot of the game day chats and, especially during the playoffs, seen a lot of posts about the NHL favoring certain teams over others. Well, I’m not exactly of the mind that the NHL starts out every season with script writers creating a story, but the NHL and other moneyed interests do certain slight things to bring in more revenue for those teams that are considered moneymakers.
Now, let’s start off with hockey. When I was in my teens my Grandmother came to visit from New York. She asked me if I wanted anything, and this being a bit before the internets, asked her to get me a New Jersey Nets jersey. When she arrived without the jersey she told me she asked the salesman about the jersey and he said they didn’t carry Nets stuff because New Jersey sucked. This is the reason why the Devils get zero respect from the NHL or any of it’s related moneyed interests. Not because they suck, but because they’re not sexy. When it comes down to it the teams in any sport need to be sexy to be marketable. The name New Jersey only invokes a couple things like the Sopranos and Chris Christie and this guy:
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But, on the other hand teams like New York and Los Angeles and Chicago bring about a lot of revenue. You see, most people don’t live in these cities and fewer have actually visited these places. But in order to bring in revenue sports organizations have to tap into the inner imaginings of these fine folk. So when you think of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles you think of glitz and glamour. And when you think of that you think of the great legendary sports teams like the Knicks, the Lakers and the Bears. It’s much easier to market these teams to someone in say, Arkansas, than teams like the Pacers, the Devils or the Clippers. Plus, these cities cover large populations and give organizations and advertisers bigger revenue share. Look at the trends of championship teams across the four sports: Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago.
It doesn’t have to be the glitz and glamour narrative. It can be the blue collar, shower after work narrative that teams like the Steelers invoke. It can be the tradition narrative that teams like the Packers and Red Wings invoke. Or it can be the douche bag narrative that Philadelphia teams invoke.
Now you say, “Well that’s all good, but we’ve had small market teams win championships.”Aha, good point, but I’m talking about how organizations like the NBA, NHL, Comcast, MSG help bump the narrative in a favorable way they don’t necessarily shape the outcome. There have been the odd champions like the Houston Rockets, the Anaheim Ducks and the Baltimore Ravens.
So how do these moneyed interests shape the narrative? Well, broadcasting for starters. This season Stanley Cup was basically viewed as Los Angeles versus that other team in the media. The Kings were talked up like they were the second coming of the eighties Oilers. New Jersey on the other hand was only mentioned when they were in trouble or things weren’t going their way, which was most of the championship. Look at the New Jersey/NYR series. All people could talk about was how awesome and talented the Rangers were without ever bring up the fact that they were a step above putting 5 railorad ties in front of Henrik Lundqvist. The broadcasters talk about the L.A.s and New Yorks of the sports world and that gets the casual fan a bit more interested because well, LA and New York. Now, before you call bullsh!t on this last item let me point something out. I live in a town next to Albuquerque. We have no large sports contingent. If you’re not a fan of a team because of their geographical closeness to New Mexico then you’re a fan of the Steelers or Giants or Lakers or Bulls. I’ve seen it first hand. The names New York and LA make idiots in my neck of the woods think that that means their getting something trendy or of quality. I can’t drive down the street without seeing LA in front of some business’s name: LA Boxing, LA Subs, LA Hair, LA Nails. Furthermore, if you don’t advertise that you make real New York style pizza then your restaurant will fail. It’s even been done at the corporate level. Big New Yorker pizza anyone? That’s a good pizza, Spike Lee.
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#2 CarpathianForest

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 01:21 PM

Well, back to hockey for a second. What about teams like the Penguins. To which I say okay then. The NHL has been trying for years to get away from the average person’s conception that hockey is violent and brutal. No violence in this God fearing country, no sir! One demographic that certainly brings in revenue is kids. And what better way to get your kid to join the peewee team than show them the fresh face of none other than Sid the Crosby. Why he’s even got the same name as that guy who sang White Christmas(and sang with coked up David Bowie). It’s got a great narrative possibility. Just when hockey was on the edge of becoming a nightly reenactment of the LA riots, here comes Sidney the Crosby to the rescue. He is going to change the way the game is played showcasing his talent and aww shucks attitude. You don’t need fisticuffs and big hits to win hockey, look at the Sidney the Crosby. It’s almost like Star Wars with Sid as Luke, Kris Letang as han Solo and Evgeni Malkin as Chewbacca. And Adam Kennedy as this guy:
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Why even when Sidney the Crosby gets in a fight on the ice it’s to defend himself and stand up for his companions. And when he gets a concussion every one can change their tune and advocate for no contact. Why, we’ll just put little strips of cloth around their breezers and have flag hockey. “We’ll think about no touch icing until Sid gets pummeled scrambling for a puck then we’ll make a big deal of it.” Plus there’s a cute Penguin on the jersey who thinks he can play hockey.” I don’t want my kid liking a team named after Satan! I like the Penguin it reminds me of that movie about the Penguin: Fight Club.
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#3 CarpathianForest

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 01:23 PM

Well what about the top talents, they don’t always play for the big market teams.” To which I say hold up. Every player that’s ever played baseball has played at least once for the Yankees. How else could you explain Jose Canseco in pinstripes. The idea of the big city, glitz and glamour mentality feeds into many players. Remember Scott Gomez? Remember most of these players aren’t exactly originally from big city teams. Plus every player wants to win a championship. The track records of the New Yorks, Los Angeles’ and Chicagos are all pretty good. Hence you get the big talents in the big cities with the big revenues and big market shares and well, fvck the Devils if they were any good they’d have New York or Los Angeles in their name.
Here’s an example of the media shaping the narrative to favor the big market team. I recall back in the nineties the Yankees and Baltimore Orioles were playing each other in the playoffs. A Yankee player hit the ball to the warning track. As the outfielder went to catch the ball some kid in the stands reached out and caught the ball right above him. This pretty much gave the momentum in the series to the Yankees and they won the series. The next day this kid was all over the national news and morning shows like Today. No one told him “What the fvck?“(Except me and other people rooting for the Orioles.) This little bastard was overwhelmingly lauded as a pint-sized hero in the media. Almost a decade later during the Cubs/Marlins series a grown man did almost the same thing; catching a live ball. He was generally regarded negatively across the board. Eventually he even changed his name and profession. I have a sneaking suspicion who he may be now:
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So what gives? Two people doing the same stupid thing. And I know what you’re going to say, “One was a Cubs fan catching a Marlins hit that eventually cost the Cubs the series, the other was a Yankees fan catching a Yankees ball that would have some impact on the Yankees success.” And to that I would say, “Shut up, it’s my article.” There’s narrative behind this. What’s more sweet and Disney than a boy helping his favorite team, the Yankees, continue their success to an eventual championship. It’s like Angels in the Outfield with less cheating. It fit’s a feel good narrative. The Cubs fan destroys the narrative. Here they are, the Chicago Cubs! Those loveable losers who haven’t won a World Series since 1902. Ahh, sh!t, never mind.
So these are just some thoughts. Just some things I’ve thought about. Like I said I’m not saying that moneyed interests totally create a narrative in sports, but they definitely have a subtle influence in the way that seasons eventually get shaped. View this as a serious piece, creative writing, comedy or what-have-you.
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#4 Zubie#8

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 01:50 PM

What in Gods name is this... :e-drama:
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#5 CarpathianForest

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 01:53 PM

It's my treatise
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#6 Zubie#8

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 01:58 PM

It's my treatise

I only said that because I saw some melted human on the first post lmao. Interesting read, not surprised by the big city appeal to people who live outside of sport markets.
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#7 ATLL765

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 02:01 PM

This was a well thought out, reasonable argument that has done well to distract me for 5 mins. I agree that this stuff goes on, but it's just the way life is. Some people have it easier because of who they are, what they look like, then there's guys like me, who, despite their chiseled good looks and tenacious desire to succeed(lol) still are just struggling to get by. This is how I see sports and the Devils in particular. The Devils are just not as attractive as the NYCs, LAs, CHIs of the hockey world and that's just the way it is.
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#8 devilsadvoc8

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 02:04 PM

I only said that because I saw some melted human on the first post lmao. Interesting read, not surprised by the big city appeal to people who live outside of sport markets.

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#9 ATLL765

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 02:06 PM

Its Toxie, our Lt Governor.


I'm reading you post, but your avatar of what appears to be an Orca dick is distracting me.
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#10 halfsharkalligatorhalfman

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 02:09 PM

What is your point? Sports leagues' marketers construct narratives to sell tickets/get eyeballs on tv broadcasts. That's not a new phenomenon.
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#11 CarpathianForest

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 02:13 PM

What is your point? Sports leagues' marketers construct narratives to sell tickets/get eyeballs on tv broadcasts. That's not a new phenomenon.


It's just a post. don't get your scales in a bunch, Dingus.
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#12 mackchi

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 03:29 PM

It's just a post. don't get your scales in a bunch, Dingus.



Please ...cut down on the RedBull...this waiting on Parise thing is making all of us tense...
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#13 RowdyFan42

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 05:41 PM

The two baseball incidents are not the same.
  • Jeffrey Maier, the little Yankees fan punk, should've been executed for what he did. (Can you tell I hate the Yankees? :evil:) Seriously, though, he reached OVER the fence and interfered with a ball that either would have been caught for an out or (more likely) would have bounced off the wall and resulted in a hit. The moron umpire didn't have the guts to properly call it fan interference and instead ruled it a home run.
  • Steve Bartman's only mistake was being a Cubs fan. The batted ball was foul no matter what. You could argue that everyone should have moved out of the way and allowed Moises Alou a better shot at catching it, but frankly, there's no guarantee he would have come away with it. Look at the video; do you really think Alou would have caught that?
And maybe this is just my perspective as a non-Yankees fan, but I don't remember the reaction to the Maier incident as being so solidly in favor of the kid as you claim. Yes, he probably got treated better than most people would have because it WAS the stinkin' Yankees, but I thought the reaction among most baseball fans was "seriously, WTF?". As for Bartman, there's no "shaping the narrative" involved; some baseball pundits got on him because they're pedantic enough to do that, but for the most part the only people who were negative toward him were fellow Cubs fans. In this way, it was much like the Steve Bernier incident; the initial reaction was swift, harsh, and fueled by emotion, but once the blood stopped boiling and you looked at the play rationally, you saw that he wasn't the villain.
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#14 Daniel

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 05:46 PM



On a serious note, I never said that sports narratives are organic. I just don't think that guys like Pierre McGuire are getting secret messages to push the Penguins as the be all end all. I don't think the league tilts things to make sure that the big-market teams or the big stars end up in the finals or anything like that. And even if they did, they must be pretty incompetent given that it got close to being a Devils/Coyotes finals.

Edited by Daniel, 02 July 2012 - 06:01 PM.

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#15 CarpathianForest

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 07:36 PM

Jeez! Write something that's a bit tongue in cheek and get berated! It was just a silly post made to pass the time.
I swear I won't do it again!
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#16 Daniel

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 08:25 PM

Jeez! Write something that's a bit tongue in cheek and get berated! It was just a silly post made to pass the time.
I swear I won't do it again!


Didn't think I was berating. There was a point in there somewhere, so I bit.

But man, that was a lot of time to be passing.
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#17 CarpathianForest

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 08:32 PM

Didn't think I was berating. There was a point in there somewhere, so I bit.

But man, that was a lot of time to be passing.


It only took like 20 minutes to type.
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#18 Microwavepizza

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 08:52 PM

Don't worry CP. I enjoyed your narrative! I noticed the whole media pushing one team over another all playoffs... Like how the flyers were tired due to the emotion of the first series... , how the rangers were tired because of 2 7 game series... Not cuz the devils played better or they controlled the games... No its never us who are good. Against the kings, it was a giant love feat for them... Just grundle licking all night long...
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