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Posts Tagged ‘hockey’

2002olympics

National Hockey League players began participating at the Olympics in 1998. Until then, only amateur players, and non-NHL professionals starting in 1988, could play hockey in the Olympics. NHL players returned to the Winter Games in 2002 and 2006, and they will also compete at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. It’s uncertain whether they will participate in the Olympics after 2010 because NHL executives believe that the league hasn’t benefitted from its players joining the Olympics.

According to Media Daily News, the NHL hoped to use the Olympic platform as a marketing opportunity, similar to how the NBA benefited from marketing opportunities and retail sales of its “Dream Team” players. NHL executives believe the league hasn’t found a way to do this.

One reason for this is because the Olympics occur during the middle of the hockey season, so the NHL has to shut down for multiple weeks. This can make it confusing for fans when the season starts again because they may not remember what was going on before the Olympics. The NBA is able to market the league and gain exposure year-round because the Summer Games take place during the off-season.

I don’t think the NHL should expect to benefit from the Olympics like the NBA does. Hockey isn’t as popular as basketball in the United States, where most of the NHL teams play. Hockey receives hardly any media coverage. Turn on ESPN and you’ll see numerous NBA highlights. No matter what the NHL does, I don’t think this will ever change. Millions of people watch basketball games on TV, but most think that watching hockey on TV is boring. Hockey is more exciting in person, but not everyone has the opportunity to attend games.

Another reason the NHL hasn’t benefitted is because of an incident that happened at the 1998 Olympics. After losing, players on the American team destroyed property in Olympic Village rooms. They broke furniture and threw a fire extinguisher out a window. Because of the global Olympic stage, people around the world thought the team, made up of NHL players, had no sportsmanship and that they were ungrateful. The American team did well and no incidents occurred at the 2002 Olympics, but people still remember what happened in Nagano.

If the NHL isn’t getting enough out of the Olympics, then why should the league allow its players to participate? I believe that the Olympics should feature the world’s greatest athletes, but the NHL is a business. Executives aren’t going to continue allowing Olympic participation if the league doesn’t gain exposure and increase revenue.

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I’m a huge hockey fan. While growing up in Portland, a city without a professional NHL team, I became a fan of the Portland Winter Hawks. My parents took me to games when I was a baby, and I’ve been going ever since.

Hockey isn’t as popular in the United States as it is in Canada, so some of you may have no idea who the Winter Hawks are. Well, the Winter Hawks are a junior hockey team, consisting of players between the ages of 16 and 20. The players are from the United States, Canada and Europe. Their goal is to get drafted when they are 18, so they can one day play in the NHL.

Years ago, the Winter Hawks were popular in Portland, especially for being a junior hockey team. In 1998, the team won the junior hockey championship, the Memorial Cup. It was a usual occurrence for more than 10,000 people to attend home games. The team was featured all over the news and in the newspapers. This was the case, until recently. So, what happened?

A couple of years ago, the team was bought by a new ownership group and things have been going downhill ever since. The owners immediately started making decisions about players and trades, but they didn’t really know anything about the hockey. So, the team started to play bad. They also got rid of longtime employees and stopped broadcasting games on the radio. These things didn’t go over well with fans. The owners continued to change things and didn’t seem to care about what people or players thought. There were reports that the owners weren’t paying the player’s medical bills. Because of all this, the team has lost many supporters and season ticket holders. On average, about 2,000 people show up for games. The team hardly has any media coverage.

I’ve become fed up. I rarely follow the team anymore or go to games. This is very disappointing because I remember the good ol’ days. How can the Winter Hawks fix their tarnished reputation?

For starters, the team has just been sold. The new owner said how grateful he is to the fans, employees and players for sticking around. This is a step in the right direction because the team needs to rebuild relationships and gain people’s trust back. The community has to be reassured of their importance to the team. Without fans and supporters, the Winter Hawks don’t exist. The Winter Hawks need to hold public events to reach out and bond with the community. They have to get the word out to the media and the public that things are changing.

In the next few months, the Winter Hawks will be put to the test. They better pass.

Read more about the Winter Hawks at: After the Whistle

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We all know that our economy is hurting. The impact of the bad economy trickles down to newspapers and the sports industry. Newspapers across the country are cutting jobs and pages to save money. At some newspapers, this can result in limited sports coverage because there are fewer reporters. Newspapers also don’t have enough money to send reporters to games or events.

While looking for information on sports public relations, I stumbled upon a great sports PR blog by Christy Hammond. Christy discusses how declining sports coverage in newspapers hurts the sports industry and what can be done to make up for the lost coverage.

Many people keep up to date on sports by reading the newspaper. Sports teams, leagues and PR departments want to see stories in the newspaper. This is important for a sports team because they can use the coverage to maintain and grow their fan base. When sports coverage is cut from newspapers, people aren’t able to get the same information as they did before and may become angry because they want to read about their favorite team. If people are still interested, they will have to find information elsewhere. The sports industry has to embrace different forms of media to receive more coverage.

Reaching out to bloggers and joining the blogosphere is a great way for the sports industry gain coverage. Some hockey teams in the NHL have formed relationships with bloggers and have invited them into the press box to cover games. This is a perfect thing because teams and leagues will most likely gain more coverage through blogs.

I have been a sports fan my entire life and I’ve always enjoyed picking up the sports section of the newspaper to read about my favorite teams. Lately, I’ve been using the Internet to read about sports because there’s so much more sports coverage available online. It looks like I’ll have to continue doing this because there may not always be a sports section in the newspaper.

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