First off I would like to say thank you to everyone who responded to my question on this topic. Fans, members of this site, and others, your input is appreciated. Also an extra special thanks to Ryan Garner for taking the time to lend some input on all of this. So here it goes.
It's that time of year again. The late blooming flowers are beginning to fade, and the leaves begin to fall. The once green trees slowly become bright yellow, orange and red as they begin to litter the streets and the parks with their leaves. When you walk through San Pedro Square you begin to notice another color littering the streets. As you make your way down Santa Clara St. towards the Guadalupe River it thickens, becoming even more apparent. You will see it on jackets, hats, sweatshirts, beanies, scarves, on old people, young people, businessmen, students, and scalpers. That other color is Pacific Teal, and as you look around, that’s when you realize ... you are in Sharks Territory!
It is hockey season again in the beautiful city of San Jose. Every fan knows it, and has been anticipating its arrival since the early exit against Detroit in last season's playoffs. My question is, how do they all know? The San Jose Sharks are the only professional sports team in San Jose. The San Jose Mercury News, the city's main newspaper, does not even have a beat writer for the team. How can that be? Impossible some say. The Sharks are the only Bay Area team that is consistently in the playoffs. When was the last time the Giants won a World Series or the Raiders won a Superbowl? I have spoke to some fans and a couple of local sports writers to try and see why there is a lack of media exposure and here is what I have come up with.
Lets start with the fans. Most fans seem to think there is some kind of conspiracy to keep the Sharks down. Some of their points make some sense, but come on, why would a city hold back a huge money maker like a sports team? Other people seem to like the fact that the Sharks hover below the media around here. These people think too much media involvement can distract a team. If you take some of the Canadian teams for example, the media pressure is nearly over the top. This affects those teams in many ways in my opinion. It creates an atmosphere that is a turn off to some players, and could be the difference in whether certain players would ever want to sign a contract to play there. Then there are the folks who just want a daily fix on what is going on with the team. This group of fans would love to be able to turn on a local sports radio show on the way to or from work and hear some hockey talk. To you people I am sorry but that just is not going to happen here. Our main sports radio station is way too into the NFL and MLB teams to even give the Sharks a nod. You would have to sit through 4 hours of college sports info before you could even catch what time the game is on that night. Fans have had to turn their attention to the internet to get the news about their teams that they seek. Websites like this one are a great source for nearly everything that is going on daily in the NHL. Bloggers have had to take the reigns to bring fans the information that local media has neglected. The future of sports news is at the hands of bloggers and websites to feed the info to the fans who care so dearly about the sport.
So how about the newspapers? Well all I can say is, from what I have heard, there is only one Sharks beat writer split among the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, and the Oakland Tribune. The Mercury News has done a better job as of late during hockey season. Most all games are reported on the front page of the sports section. Problem is there is not enough in between. The only things usually reported are the scores and a routine game breakdown. I myself am alright with that. I just think fans of such a quality team want to hear more about their team. They want them to be recognized by the newspapers and radio shows for their achievements. Now I believe to gain the respect and recognition on the national scale the Sharks will have to win a championship. That being said, I do not believe it will help them as far as our local media goes. The time of the beat writer is a thing of the past, as put by Sharks_fan_Tim. With the internet pouring it on the way it has been there is no need for the papers to pay someone to travel with the team. Of course since I began writing this blog the newspaper has had an article about the Sharks on the front page of the sports section everyday now. Maybe this is a turning point, I don’t know. It seems like the fans are very unhappy with the lack of interest in the Sharks from the local papers though.
Television is a funny thing. You can turn on a channel that claims it covers all sports, wait for some hockey highlights, and then get a 30 second long series of highlights for the nights games and that's it. On to another 10 hours of NFL coverage. It sure is too bad I am not a Rangers fan, because if I was I would at least catch all the highlights from their game. Hockey has taken a back seat to all other sports in the United States sports media. It is sad actually because the majority of the NHL teams are in the U.S. The West Coast suffers a little because the main media is based on the East Coast. Our games are just starting when they are getting ready for bed. I must say FSN Bay Area does a great job at bringing us nearly every game throughout the season. They have a show dedicated to the team called Shark Byte that airs weekly. Drew you always do a good job with that, thanks. The center ice package is great for hockey fans. It is generally cheaper than other sports packages. The only complaint I have about it is the reception. The feeds they use to broadcast the games from around the continent are very blurry at times. Some games are too hard to watch even. Now I know we have all been spoiled with the introduction of hockey in HD, but come on, it sometimes feels like I am trying to watch a Habs game through my grandfathers' glasses. Overall, television coverage of the Sharks here is great. I really do not see anything wrong with it.
Well it seems to me that cuts in jobs in the local media industry have really hurt the Sharks. The few scattered articles are good but lack passion. They do not seem to be written by someone who enjoys the game and feel more like they're written more because it is an assignment. The Sharks locker room is stacked full of great talent and just really good hearted guys. People should hear more about these guys who love the fans and the community in which they play. They should be recognized for being good role models to the youth of the city. The NFL and MLB are so littered with crime, it seems hard to find the role model players they once had. So to the local media I say..... Show these guys off to the community a little more this season and help put hockey in a higher place in the U.S. The team is deserving of a little more attention than it receives and the sport itself should be looked at as a great sport as it is in Canada. The fans want it!