The NHL Is Back! Does Anybody Care?

The LA Kings hoisted the Stanley Cup on June 11, 2012. Champions of the NHL. They’ll begin their title defense on January 19th, 2013. That’s 221 days for those of you keeping track. 221 days since the NHL last played a game. 510 regular season games were cancelled due to the labor dispute that led to the NHL’s lockout. The 2nd in less than 10 years. The question everyone is asking now is, now that the NHL returns to the ice will there be anyone there to cheer them on?

One of the toughest jobs in North America right now has to be that of a Marketing/PR person for the league and its 30 teams. From Miami to Winnipeg and Vancouver to Raleigh, people are trying to figure out how to get the fans back. Apologies have been posted, some more heartfelt than others, and deals galore. While no one has gone the overt route of free tickets & beer there have been some pretty good ones from the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Are 25% discounts at the team store, free nachos, and the equivalent of $8 tickets enough to get people to come back to the arena? All the while battling traffic, paying for parking, and dealing with crowds? Will the fans return to the sports bars and buy food and drinks? Will they even watch when they’re at home? Will they care?

The answer is that we’re not going to know until they drop the puck. People may say one thing and do another. Even the people who say that they are done with hockey may return next season. We just don’t know. The promotions help but PR and marketing can only do so much. Eventually the play on the ice has to be compelling enough for the people to come back.

No Polls ‘Till October

College Football is filled with anomalies and noise. Lots of anomalies and noise.

A few examples;

It is the only North American sport that does not decide it’s champion with a playoff.

There is a preseason poll that for all intents and purposes is just plain silly.

The University of Arkansas was ranked in the top 10 at the beginning of the season because of what they did last year and the players they had returning this year. They were however missing one major piece, their head coach. Bobby Petrino got fired earlier this year and was replaced in the short term by John L. Smith. They are currently 1-3 and two of the losses include an upset lose to Louisiana-Monroe (ULM) and a behind the woodshed beating by Alabama.

Meanwhile ULM is a very competitive 1-2 and they scared the living daylights out of Auburn (who they took to overtime a week after beating Arkansas) and Baylor (47-41 final). Ohio University is 4-0 with a win at Penn State and Louisiana Tech is unbeaten, currently averaging 55 points per game and is probably going to beat another big school this weekend on the road (they play at Virginia and have already beaten Houston and Illinois on the road).

Why aren’t these teams ranked? How could everyone be so wrong about Arkansas? Is the Big Ten really that bad?

It’s the old saying, past performance does not guarantee future success. Preseason College Football polls should be done away with. The first poll should come out the first week of October after the teams have had a few games to prove themselves.

It won’t even effect TV ratings. People are going to tune in for Alabama v Michigan anyway because it’s two big named schools. People will be watching Nebraska v UCLA because it’s two big name schools. Does anyone see a pattern developing here?

When the first poll comes out it won’t be all that different then it is now. Most people would have believed in preseason that Alabama was the best team in College Football and that that would be a pretty safe bet. Turns out that they would be right, at least by my estimation. Alabama will probably compete for the National Championship again this year so what does it matter if they are preseason #1 in the August?

For the smaller programs out there or the teams trying to get into the National Championship picture, being ranked would help get attention and probably help raise money too. But rank them in the first week of October. Not the first week of August.