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Too many funerals for Local Sports Teams. It's time for a change!

We have seen them come and we have seen them go. Sports teams in the Capital Region. The Albany Firebirds, Albany Patroons, Albany River Rats, Adirondack Red Wings and the Albany-Colonie Yankees are just a small sample of the teams that either left the area, went defunct or just morphed into something else.

While many of the local fans beg for a major sports team to set up shop in the Capital Region, those same fans realistically are skeptical it will ever happen.

The consensus opinion is that people in the area don’t come out to see the games. It may be a fair assessment but I do not believe it is 100% the fans’ fault. There are so many contributing factors to why sports teams struggle and why its the same vicious cycle in the 518.

Show up, Play a few years, Leave.

In my opinion we can point to some other contributing factors aside from just “the fans”.

Local Media
It does not take a rocket scientist to know that in order for anything in this area (or any area) to work is proper coverage. In the Capital Region we have several newspapers including the Times Union, Daily Gazette, Troy Record and Spotlight Newspaper among others.

We also have news stations like Channel 6, 10, 13, Fox News and YNN.
In addition we have local radio shows like Big Board Sports with Rodger Wyland, The Noe Show and Soundoff with Sinkoff.

While many may assume that these outlets would passionately cover their own local sports teams there is a huge void that seems to lingers. A lack of coverage, knowledge and a lack of caring.

It’s not only coverage though, it’s support. While Journalists are best to be subjective, opinionated and uphold a certain “Journalistic Integrity” there needs to be support for these local teams that doesn’t solely rest on the locals’ shoulders.

Many teams pay these very papers and radio stations for advertisements. All they seem to get in return is a print ad in the paper and the occasional article or a few commercial spots on the radio.

Let’s take the Times Union for example, “the king” of the newspapers around here. A newspaper who has a personal stake in the Albany Devils and should fully understand the need for sports to survive in the Capital Region. A company that should know the struggles first hand of a sports team trying to find long term success and staying power.

The Albany Legends have been having a great season. They have improved their attendance and really have built a connection with the local community. But all the Times Union seems to do in “support” of the Legends is have their Sports Columnists post articles that aren’t too flattering. Take Times Union’s Mark McGuire for example. Just read his lone articles from this season on the Albany Legends:

Never mind that McGuire themed his first article as a sort of “farewell” to the Legends. In fact, it read more like an obituary than sound Sports coverage on a still very-alive team. It’s more perplexing that McGuire felt the need to drive this point home again in his second article.

Instead of attending the games personally opposed to just reading box scores, instead of writing in each article you post about the Legends that local sports teams struggle and instead of driving these negative points down locals throats I have a few suggestions.

The Albany Legends are just one of the many local sports franchises that take a pro-active role in connecting with the community via events and charity.

Why not focus on all the great things the Albany Legends do in the Capital Region? Or how the Adirondack Phantoms have an incredible relationship with the Glens Falls community? Why not cover the die hard girls of the local Roller Derby teams (some of which take the time to blog on your site) who have worked their butts off to bring Roller Derby to the area and actually make it work?

And actually, why not take the time to attend a few games before coming to the conclusion that the local sports culture is a “lost cause”?

Instead, what we get rushed and rather unflattering pieces from Journalists who don’t seem to have the time to truly care. Paragraph long synopsis’ of games played and no in-depth look at the team or any locals playing on the team. Just sporadic articles that sound more like a Politician pushing his/her opinions than actual Sports Journalism.

Do not get me wrong, I know that not all articles is “sunshine & rainbows” as Deanna and I say, but when the ONLY time you have mentioned the Albany Legends has been in two negatively doused articles it begs the question… Why do we subject ourselves to this?

There is no rallying cry to the Capital Region for these teams. No leading by example.

With so many readers you can have a positive impact on these teams. You can create a connection via your articles. You can show why these teams are important to our area.

But instead of doing that, we get the same tired sentiment that “sports teams won’t work” and “it won’t work because fans don’t come out“. But when does the responsibility (or part of it) fall on the Media’s shoulders? Why point the finger at the fans?

Maybe this sentiment is much more accurate and honest coming from the Media; “If a sports team wants to work in this area they better pay us a boatload of money for us to care.”

And “caring” doesn’t involve covering every game. It doesn’t even mean covering half the games. It means picking and choosing when to show up for a quarter or two, take a few pictures, video and then leave. type up a paragraph or two summary and call it a night.

But it doesn’t stop just with the newspapers, it hits the airwaves too. Although I do give kudos to Rodger Wyland for his focus on local sports, I cannot say the same to Soundoff with Sinkoff.

While I cannot necessarily knock some of the high school coverage they do provide (they do well in that area) they fail to do anything outside of that worth mentioning.

We hear local sports teams commercials on your station, on your show. We know that you will do at least one show from one of their games. Maybe you will even plug an upcoming game. But you’re a radio outlet, not a bulletin board.

Instead of telling me a schedule, tell me about the team. Actually show you give a damn about local sports teams. Tell us results, tell us about players on the roster, about incoming teams, etc.

Instead of providing the time to do that “Sound Off” would rather let their co-host take that time to do his “hacky” stand-up routine on the air. Not to mention they gave this guy air time to take verbal jabs at another local comedian (very unprofessional) while calling a local stand up venue that houses hard working locals comedians his “warm up”. Kudos to you Sound Off.

God forbid you disagree with their view on the show. Although they sell you on sports talk and debate they fail to mention that you’ll get hung up on and insulted if you dare challenge any of their points of view.

So instead of getting your in-depth coverage about the Legends, Valley-Cats, Phantoms, Hellions of Troy or Albany All-Stars we get….stand up routines.

They can defend this with their coverage of the Siena Saints and the Albany Devils. But let’s be “real” here, they pay you a ton of money and own the major arena in town (Times Union Center).

Many of you may agree with my statements in this article, many of you may not. But sometimes you have to go against the grain and just say you are fed up with the way things are going.

Time to rally for a change in the Capital Region

Deanna Ferris and I started and our media coverage because we are sick of this tired old act in the Capital Region. Let’s give these teams a chance and actually help them build a connection with the community. Let’s provide them the outlet to do so. Let’s have the passionate sports fans of any and every team (pro and minor) debate freely without hanging up.

These local teams can work!

I understand Media is a business. I have been in it for a few years myself and know that. But there come few opportunities to make a difference in an area that can have a profound impact on not only the culture but the economy.

Set aside your greed for money and team up to build a legacy with these teams. It’s not only is good for business, it’s good for the community and it’s great for the residents.

I know national sports is what sells. But local sports can have a place as well.

There needs to be change. A team in Schenectady, a team in Saratoga. Some of the issues with local team success is the over-saturation of teams in Albany. With the revival of Schenectady it’s time to branch some teams out. Downtown Schenectady has come a long way in the past 5 years and can be a great location for a sports team.

Saratoga is another great location. A winter sports team to offset the track season could keep business booming all year long. A city with a slot machine casino, vibrant nightlife and a world famous racetrack is a perfect setting for a sports franchise.

Most of all there needs to be a new format for sports coverage. And there is. Although we are a two person team, can provide the alternative. An interactive outlet for local and national sports that will be critical of our teams, not a detractor. A sports discussion format that won’t cut you off for a differing opinion but instead may shout you out on our podcast. A sports media company that defines success not only in monetary profit but in actually building and improving the Sports Fan/Team Connection in this area.

Compare and Contrast for yourself:

And our radio show-

So tell me readers….is it time for a change? I think so and can help make it happen.



About The Author

Anthony DiMoro is the creator of Sports Rants and the CEO of Elite Rank Media. Anthony DiMoro is a Contributor for 'Forbes' where he talks Sports, SEO, Social Media and Internet Marketing. Anthony also hosts the 'Forbes SportsMoney Podcast' and is a Contributor to the Huffington Post where he covers sports

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2 Responses

  1. Nick Madelone

    Couldn’t agree more, the local teams deserve much better from the local media. Sure it isn’t the “Big” leagues so to speak, but these teams and players play their sports for the love of the game and always give 110 percent and then some. For the $10/$12 bucks or so you pay to watch a game, you get so much bang for your buck…quality performance and a fun night out, and it’s all right here in our backyard. I can honestly say that after attending a few Legends games this year, their games are much more exciting than most Siena or NBA games I watch…and I’m a Siena grad. They are also coming off a championship season, as are the ValleyCats. However, it’s more than just winning or losing, it’s a connection with the community and a source of sports and entertainment that the Capital Region needs.

  2. Lilly

    I tend to agree with you. My son loves basketball, and has developed an avid interest in the Legends. He was so thrilled when we found out that Ben Smith and a few of his players would come to our AAU team practice once a week and give them pointers and work out with them. As a result of the generous sharing of their time, I chose to support them as much as we could by going to the home games at CBA. Last Saturday morning, we read in the paper that it was the last weekend at home, they gave the times, and decided that if we could get there in time, we would get to their Saturday night game. We finished our tournament in Saratoga in time, and headed to CBA for the 7pm game (as the paper said), only to discover that the game was actually played earlier in the afternoon. How can we expect the fans to support the team if the media can’t even bother to get the schedule correct?

    Back when I was an avid hockey fan and loved going to the Albany River Rats games, WNYT actually had a half hour show on every weekend (I think it might have been Saturdays) that was all about the team, the players, the Devils, the opponents, the league. It was hosted by the announcer of the games, and all of the games were broadcast on the radio…on a real station at the time, 980AM….not a weak station that you can only receive if you stand in front of the station building. That went a long way to bolstering my support of the team. We don’t have that dedication to local teams any more. Yes, you are right, we hear about the high school teams, but hardly a word of the college teams outside of Siena basketball or UAlbany football….. and even less about the semipro or minor league teams. How do you expect the fans to attend the games if you print the wrong game time in the paper?