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Globe & Mail: Interest in big leagues slips, survey says

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  • David Stewart-Candy
    Interest in big leagues slips, survey says Runaway salaries cited as major reason for falling enthusiasm for pro athletes By DONALD MCKENZIE Canadian Press
    Message 1 of 9 , Feb 4, 2002
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      Interest in big leagues slips, survey says

      Runaway salaries cited as major reason for falling
      enthusiasm for pro athletes

      By DONALD MCKENZIE
      Canadian Press

      Monday, February 4, 2002 � Page S3

      MONTREAL -- Interest in professional sports has fallen
      among about one-third of Canadians in recent years, a
      new opinion poll suggests.

      And 55.3 per cent of respondents in the Leger
      Marketing poll said they agreed that player salaries
      have become "ridiculously high" and have had a
      negative impact on how they view professional
      athletes.

      About one-third (33.8 per cent) of respondents were
      less interested in professional sports than a few
      years ago, while 47.1 per cent had the same level of
      interest. Another 13.5 per cent said their interest
      had risen in the last few years.

      Runaway salaries were cited as the major reason (45.6
      per cent) for loss of interest. They were followed by
      the departures of Canadian franchises (12.1 per cent),
      weak performances by Canadian teams (10 per cent), and
      player strikes (7 per cent).

      Bryan Barbieri, a keen sports fan, said he wasn't
      surprised by the findings.

      "Sports has been an important part of our culture over
      the years and people are concerned about what's
      happening in terms of salaries, etc.," said Barbieri,
      an associate professor of marketing at Concordia
      University whose work does not involve sports
      research.

      "People are becoming turned off.

      "There's something distorted in terms of the value
      system . . . and I think people are beginning to see a
      little bit more about priorities in our society, too,"
      he said, referring to health and education.

      The poll of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Jan. 22 to
      27. It is considered accurate within 2.6 percentage
      points, 19 times out of 20.

      The survey also indicated hockey remained Canadians'
      favourite professional sport with 45.4-per-cent
      support.

      Baseball (14.6 per cent), football (12.3) and
      basketball (9.3) followed.

      The rest either didn't have a favourite or didn't
      know.

      The poll, issued on Super Bowl weekend, indicated a
      preference for Canadian football (39.3 per cent) over
      the American game (22.4 per cent).

      And despite their 35-year Stanley Cup drought, the
      Toronto Maple Leafs led the list of favourite
      Canadian-based NHL teams with 30.4-per-cent support.

      The Montreal Canadiens were second with 21.6 per cent.
      Other numbers were Vancouver Canucks (8.9 per cent),
      Edmonton Oilers (8.8 per cent) and the Calgary Flames
      and Ottawa Senators (both 4.2 per cent). Another 21.9
      per cent had no favourite team, didn't know or refused
      to answer.

      Maple Leafs spokesman Pat Park was happy when informed
      of the results, which indicated the Leafs were the
      fans' favourite team in Ontario, the Atlantic
      provinces, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

      "I do know that when we go on the road, we enjoy great
      fan support, whether it's in Western Canada, in
      Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, just by judging the
      number of Leafs sweaters in the crowd," Park said in
      an interview.

      "We had training camp out east in St. John's this year
      and it was just a great, great fan reception we
      received from people in Newfoundland."

      The Leafs' major affiliate is the St. John's Maple
      Leafs of the American Hockey League.

      Park said the Leafs and the Canadiens enjoy something
      the other Canadian-based NHL teams don't -- tradition.

      "We've been around, this is our 75th year, so that's
      an added advantage for us. We've had fans for the last
      75 years that pass from one generation to another in
      different families."

      Park believes the numbers might change if another poll
      is conducted while one or more teams are putting
      together a run for the Stanley Cup.

      "Everybody loves a winner," Park said. "I think [the
      poll] reflects the team's win-loss record to a certain
      degree."

      Back in Montreal, Barbieri said the Canadiens' poor
      performance in recent years -- they haven't made the
      playoffs since 1997-98 and are involved in a dogfight
      for postseason action this year -- probably had an
      impact on the numbers.

      "The Leafs have been a better hockey team and people
      tend to shift."




      =====
      David Stewart-Candy

      International Ice Hockey Almanac
      Canadian Lacrosse Almanac
      East Vancouver, British Columbia

      Just say "NO! to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver

      ______________________________________________________________________
      Web-hosting solutions for home and business! http://website.yahoo.ca
    • Richard Spiegel
      This article is really dead-on in the way that I, and many people I know, see sports in Canada. Whereas I used to live and die with the NHL and other major
      Message 2 of 9 , Feb 5, 2002
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        This article is really dead-on in the way that I, and many people I know,
        see sports in Canada. Whereas I used to live and die with the NHL and other
        major sports, now I see pro sports as something part of the absurd and out
        of my reach.
        I would much rather see my tax dollars go towards healthcare and education.
        And, if a city like Baltimore is going to sacrifice social services in order
        to spend itself silly in order to attract a pro sports franchise (in this
        case football), so be it, just as long as it doesn't happen here...
        Anyways, I think I've shared similar views previously, so I'll nip this rant
        in the bud.
        R.S.
      • craig_1965ca
        Richard, I agree with you 100%. However I would argue it is not just the money that is turning fans away - in many cases it is the players behaviour. Football,
        Message 3 of 9 , Feb 5, 2002
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          Richard,

          I agree with you 100%. However I would argue it is not just the money
          that is turning fans away - in many cases it is the players
          behaviour. Football, baseball, and basketball players in many cases
          are arrogant jerks who treat fans with contempt, and in some cases
          engage in criminal behaviour. Why would I spend my hard earned money
          supporting those creeps? On the other hand most hockey and CFL
          players seem to be of a different breed and treat their fans with
          kindness. Still the cost of an NHL game I believe drives away many
          fans.

          As far as the cost goes I make a good living but the quality of
          entertainment provided by most pro sports simply is not worth the
          price. The exception in Toronto I would say is the Toronto Argonauts
          of the CFL. For $40.00 I can take my wife and two girls to see
          excellent pro football and have a very fun evening out.

          Craig








          --- In hockhist@y..., "Richard Spiegel" <rspiegal@p...> wrote:
          > This article is really dead-on in the way that I, and many people I
          know,
          > see sports in Canada. Whereas I used to live and die with the NHL
          and other
          > major sports, now I see pro sports as something part of the absurd
          and out
          > of my reach.
          > I would much rather see my tax dollars go towards healthcare and
          education.
          > And, if a city like Baltimore is going to sacrifice social services
          in order
          > to spend itself silly in order to attract a pro sports franchise
          (in this
          > case football), so be it, just as long as it doesn't happen here...
          > Anyways, I think I've shared similar views previously, so I'll nip
          this rant
          > in the bud.
          > R.S.
        • David Stewart-Candy
          ... Likewise with lacrosse, which is doing a rather good job making me and a few others I know turn my back on the NHL and their prima donna$. For $50, I can
          Message 4 of 9 , Feb 5, 2002
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            > As far as the cost goes I make a good living but the
            > quality of
            > entertainment provided by most pro sports simply is
            > not worth the
            > price. The exception in Toronto I would say is the
            > Toronto Argonauts
            > of the CFL. For $40.00 I can take my wife and two
            > girls to see
            > excellent pro football and have a very fun evening
            > out.

            Likewise with lacrosse, which is doing a rather good
            job making me and a few others I know turn my back on
            the NHL and their prima donna$.

            For $50, I can have the best seat in the house at an
            NLL game and generally see better talented teams and
            more exciting games (unlike compared to last night's
            Phoenix-Vancouver tilt, a fine exhibition of diluted
            floating in which I actually dozed off for about five
            or ten minutes minutes. I was woken up when someone
            wanted to get past me).

            For $10, I can sit anywhere I dang well please at a
            WLA game. I may not get a soundsystem any better than
            an old home stereo unit from the 1980s, and no
            jumbotron adverts pushing the latest Schwartzenegger
            movie - but I DO get world class talent on par with
            the NLL pro league.



            =====
            David Stewart-Candy

            International Ice Hockey Almanac
            Canadian Lacrosse Almanac
            East Vancouver, British Columbia

            Just say "NO! to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver

            ______________________________________________________________________
            Web-hosting solutions for home and business! http://website.yahoo.ca
          • rspiegal@pathcom.com
            ... I agree 100% - I just hope that the NLL doesn t get caught up in NHL (and NBA, NFL and MLB) style corruption and politics... R.S. . [Non-text portions of
            Message 5 of 9 , Feb 5, 2002
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              |
              | Likewise with lacrosse, which is doing a rather good
              | job making me and a few others I know turn my back on
              | the NHL and their prima donna$.
              |

              I agree 100% - I just hope that the NLL doesn't get caught up in NHL (and NBA, NFL and MLB) style corruption and politics...
              R.S.
              .


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • benjamin@prcn.org
              ... The article is based on a poll that is very bogus. Stop and think about the question. Are you more interested or less interested in sports than you were
              Message 6 of 9 , Feb 5, 2002
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                Richard wrote:

                > This article is really dead-on in the way that I, and many people I know,
                > see sports in Canada.

                The article is based on a poll that is very bogus. Stop and think about the
                question. "Are you more interested or less interested in sports than you
                were five years ago?"

                Most people over the age of 25 have to answer "Less". Interest in sports
                peaks among teenagers. That's when almost all of us are the most fanatical.
                As people mature, interests broaden and family and career leave less time
                for interest in sports. The reduced interest in sport that comes with
                maturity is normal for every individual. The survey could produce only one
                possible result.

                If we want to know whether our collective interest is on the wane, we have
                to compare 15 year old's opinions today to 15 year old's opinions five years
                ago. We have to compare 20 year olds to 20 year olds. We have to take a
                survey then and a survey now.

                Are Canadians more interested in death these days? I don't know, but if you
                do a survey that asks "Are you more or less interested in funeral plots than
                you were five years ago?" the answer will indicate we are becoming obsessed
                with death because almost everyone thinks about it more as they grow older
                and everybody is older than they were five years ago.

                Pollsters do this all the time. I don't think it was an error. Leger
                Marketing has a contract with CP to do a poll on a regular basis. It is hard
                to come up with a legitimate survey week after week, one that produces a
                real story. So they structure a survey in such a way that the results
                produced are guaranteed to hit all the hot buttons, and produce a story they
                know Richard will enjoy. Everybody is happy. CP, Leger, Richard. It is
                garbage, but everyone is happy.

                The whole thing is silly if you do stop and think about it. We don't see
                polls asking people if their interest in movies is on the decline because
                movie stars make so much money. (The answer would be the same though.
                Interest in going to the movies drops in individuals as they age, just like
                interest in sports drops as they age.)

                The reason we don't do those surveys is that nobody is interested in getting
                that result. That result can't be sold to a newspaper and then sold to movie
                fans. Nobody cares about linking interest in movies and salaries for actors.

                The best way to determine whether interest in movies is on the rise or the
                wane is to look at the box office. An opinion survey that purports to
                measure interest is silly when the interest can be measured directly with
                box office receipts.

                Tom
              • William Underwood
                Acutally box offices can be pretty deceiveing too. There are a number of corporate seats inthere that are tax write offs for their owners who in turn give it
                Message 7 of 9 , Feb 5, 2002
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                  Acutally box offices can be pretty deceiveing too. There are a number of
                  corporate seats inthere that are tax write offs for their owners who in turn
                  give it to guests, employees etc. Who passes on a freebie? Many of the
                  people that use them would not actually bUY a ticket to the same game.

                  And there is actually a major difference between actors and atheletes. The
                  loyalty issue. People identify with teams and players are the faces of the
                  team. A favorite player leaving a favorite team for big money is not the
                  same as an actor swtiching studios. The team is a part of the connestion
                  with the fan-- studios are not. And if the general mercenary view prevails
                  (which is logical for players) a vital link to fans is lost.

                  I tend to think people ARE more jaded toward sport. Does it neccesarily mean
                  less attendance? Not always, some fans will still go yet be MUCH more
                  cynical and perhaps less loyal viewers than in the past. We are actually
                  seeing this effect ALL sports. The NFL and NBA may have reached their limts
                  on TV revenue (at least the conventional) as networks are losing money on
                  the currrent NFL deal. The next one may not grow much farther than simple
                  inflation. Hockey's ratings are down. and baseball, well baseball has it's
                  share of problems too. All of this shows a certain degree of
                  disillusionment. The boob tube is tHE ultimate measruement for a sport. It
                  is cost free, travel free, universally accesible and only costs time. TV
                  sports ratings have in general flattened out. Not went down in a steady
                  decline in all cases
                  ala the NHL, but have definitely not followed previous trends. Another
                  symptom is the growth of lesser sports like the X games, women's pro leagues
                  etc. A major common thread here is that we are not talking highly paid pros.
                  There seems to be a market for the less jaded end of the sports world.

                  Is it the crisis that people like the Globe and Mail like to purvey. No. But
                  is there a definite trend. Yes. It has been recognised industry wide. Where
                  does it go? I doubt it will mean the end of sport as we know it but it will
                  possibly mean new approahes to selling games, a new breed of fan, and a new
                  economics, one where constant exponential revnue growth is longer the norm.

                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: benjamin@... [mailto:benjamin@...]
                  Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2002 1:36 PM
                  To: hockhist@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [hockhist] Globe & Mail: Interest in big leagues slips,
                  survey says


                  Richard wrote:

                  > This article is really dead-on in the way that I, and many people I know,
                  > see sports in Canada.

                  The article is based on a poll that is very bogus. Stop and think about the
                  question. "Are you more interested or less interested in sports than you
                  were five years ago?"

                  Most people over the age of 25 have to answer "Less". Interest in sports
                  peaks among teenagers. That's when almost all of us are the most fanatical.
                  As people mature, interests broaden and family and career leave less time
                  for interest in sports. The reduced interest in sport that comes with
                  maturity is normal for every individual. The survey could produce only one
                  possible result.

                  If we want to know whether our collective interest is on the wane, we have
                  to compare 15 year old's opinions today to 15 year old's opinions five years
                  ago. We have to compare 20 year olds to 20 year olds. We have to take a
                  survey then and a survey now.

                  Are Canadians more interested in death these days? I don't know, but if you
                  do a survey that asks "Are you more or less interested in funeral plots than
                  you were five years ago?" the answer will indicate we are becoming obsessed
                  with death because almost everyone thinks about it more as they grow older
                  and everybody is older than they were five years ago.

                  Pollsters do this all the time. I don't think it was an error. Leger
                  Marketing has a contract with CP to do a poll on a regular basis. It is hard
                  to come up with a legitimate survey week after week, one that produces a
                  real story. So they structure a survey in such a way that the results
                  produced are guaranteed to hit all the hot buttons, and produce a story they
                  know Richard will enjoy. Everybody is happy. CP, Leger, Richard. It is
                  garbage, but everyone is happy.

                  The whole thing is silly if you do stop and think about it. We don't see
                  polls asking people if their interest in movies is on the decline because
                  movie stars make so much money. (The answer would be the same though.
                  Interest in going to the movies drops in individuals as they age, just like
                  interest in sports drops as they age.)

                  The reason we don't do those surveys is that nobody is interested in getting
                  that result. That result can't be sold to a newspaper and then sold to movie
                  fans. Nobody cares about linking interest in movies and salaries for actors.

                  The best way to determine whether interest in movies is on the rise or the
                  wane is to look at the box office. An opinion survey that purports to
                  measure interest is silly when the interest can be measured directly with
                  box office receipts.

                  Tom




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                • Craig
                  Tom, I don t really agree with you here. I love sports as much as I did when I was a teenager. The difference is as I have matured I have lost much interest in
                  Message 8 of 9 , Feb 6, 2002
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                    Tom,

                    I don't really agree with you here. I love sports as much as I did when I was a teenager. The difference is as I have matured I have lost much interest in modern pro sports. I have zero interest in the modern NHL, MLB, and some although less in the CFL. I have great interest in the history of sports. That is why I have just spent a year writing a book on the 1967-72 Toronto Argonaut football team (which a publisher is going through now! Wish me luck there!)

                    Why is that? Players' behavior of today in many cases disgusts me. The money disgusts me. I don't begrudge anyone making a good living however I have a problem with a society and a sport that will pay a basketball player 10 million per season, and a doctor $100,000.00. It used to be with wealth came a sense of social responsibility. Most players of today don't have the ethics or intelligence to understand that. Why would I want to support them? Actually I'll attach a quote here from one of my favorite athletes of all time named Mel Profit. Mel was an All American tight-end out of UCLA who played for the Toronto Argonauts from 1966-71. He is still listed as among the most popular athletes in the history of this city. Very bright man. Here is a excerpt from a November 20, 1971 Toronto Star interview with him. He sums up my attitudes perfectly.

                    "You just cannot rationalize it", Profit said. "Personally, I’ve never been able to see the glorification of athletes at all. If we are going to glorify someone why not doctors and humanitarians? Football is entertainment. When it tries to be something more, it ceases to have any reason for being."

                    You can change the word football in and substitute any other sport.

                    Craig
                    ---
                    The article is based on a poll that is very bogus. Stop and think about the
                    question. "Are you more interested or less interested in sports than you
                    were five years ago?"

                    Most people over the age of 25 have to answer "Less". Interest in sports
                    peaks among teenagers. That's when almost all of us are the most fanatical.
                    As people mature, interests broaden and family and career leave less time
                    for interest in sports. The reduced interest in sport that comes with
                    maturity is normal for every individual. The survey could produce only one
                    possible result.

                    If we want to know whether our collective interest is on the wane, we have
                    to compare 15 year old's opinions today to 15 year old's opinions five years
                    ago. We have to compare 20 year olds to 20 year olds. We have to take a
                    survey then and a survey now.

                    Are Canadians more interested in death these days? I don't know, but if you
                    do a survey that asks "Are you more or less interested in funeral plots than
                    you were five years ago?" the answer will indicate we are becoming obsessed
                    with death because almost everyone thinks about it more as they grow older
                    and everybody is older than they were five years ago.

                    Pollsters do this all the time. I don't think it was an error. Leger
                    Marketing has a contract with CP to do a poll on a regular basis. It is hard
                    to come up with a legitimate survey week after week, one that produces a
                    real story. So they structure a survey in such a way that the results
                    produced are guaranteed to hit all the hot buttons, and produce a story they
                    know Richard will enjoy. Everybody is happy. CP, Leger, Richard. It is
                    garbage, but everyone is happy.

                    The whole thing is silly if you do stop and think about it. We don't see
                    polls asking people if their interest in movies is on the decline because
                    movie stars make so much money. (The answer would be the same though.
                    Interest in going to the movies drops in individuals as they age, just like
                    interest in sports drops as they age.)

                    The reason we don't do those surveys is that nobody is interested in getting
                    that result. That result can't be sold to a newspaper and then sold to movie
                    fans. Nobody cares about linking interest in movies and salaries for actors.

                    The best way to determine whether interest in movies is on the rise or the
                    wane is to look at the box office. An opinion survey that purports to
                    measure interest is silly when the interest can be measured directly with
                    box office receipts.

                    Tom




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                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • benjamin@prcn.org
                    ... was a teenager. I think you miss the point. Plenty of people agree with the results of the survey, and plenty of people will say their experience agrees.
                    Message 9 of 9 , Feb 6, 2002
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                      >I don't really agree with you here. I love sports as much as I did when I
                      was a teenager.

                      I think you miss the point. Plenty of people agree with the results of the
                      survey, and plenty of people will say their experience agrees. It does not
                      matter. The methodology was bogus. It was designed to produce the result it
                      produced so that CP got a story. This serves the interest of the pollster
                      (if CP doesn't get a story how long will they commission surveys) and the
                      wire service.

                      Is interest in big league sport really on the wane? You can't tell that by
                      the ticket sales or the revenue generated. Bill is correct when he points
                      out that many tickets are now sold to corporations instead of fans, but that
                      just delays the demand a click. The reason corporations buy them is because
                      their customers are fans.

                      That said, I think interest probably has waned simply because there is so
                      much more choice and because so many more games are sold. When the NHL was
                      only on once a week, it was an event. It may be true that interest level has
                      slipped. But you certainly could not tell it by this poll. This poll is
                      meaningless.

                      If anybody really wanted to find out they could conduct a proper survey.
                      (Why does anyone care, anyway?) The only problem with a proper survey from
                      the pollster's perspective is that it might produce a result that is not a
                      story. That would be a very expensive exercise and CP will not pay them for
                      long if they do not generate stories. So they write the story in their minds
                      and then design the poll to produce the desired results.

                      How else can you explain the way this poll was structured? It is not just
                      this poll. We are inundated with polls like this one. Most people take them
                      at face value, particularly when they pander to commonly held ideas.

                      Tom
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