American idol has hockey singing the blues

Monday, June 2, 2003

dwilson

In a world dominated by reality television programs based on plot twists, a feel-good-nonfiction-sports story is king. Networks are introducing a new reality television show every week and Americans are gobbling them up. So why isn't anyone watching the Stanley Cup playoffs?

This year the programs that have dominated hockey in ratings, according to Nielsen Media Research: "American Idol" averaged a 14.1; "The Bachelor" 9.6; and "Survivor: Thailand" 12.1.

Of course, each of these programs and the NHL don't appeal to nearly the same audience, although I would like to see some of the people who watch Survivor get laid out by a Scott Stevens cross check. But the NHL isn't anywhere close, averaging an infomercial-like 1.6 on Saturdays.

Why?

Because drama sells.

Americans can get all the suspense and drama they need packed into an hour of Survivor rather than a three-hour telecast of a hockey game. For the same reason the average American couldn't name the starting goaltender for the New Jersey Devils, but he or she could tell you who won Amercian Idol.

Now NHL commish Gary Bettman wants to find new ways to excite fans and appeal to newer audiences. Changing the game to heighten the excitement is not a good answer because fans don't buy that either.

Just ask the XFL.

There is plenty of excitement coming up in your baseball-filled Week Ahead:

Wednesday

  • The last area high school baseball team still playing shoots for a state title. Oran faces Concordia in a Class 1 semifinal at 5 p.m. in Columbia.

    Friday

  • I need a little break from baseball. I wish the Cardinals would run the Rams onto the field for a game of flag football. But with youth night at Family Arena in St. Charles, you won't have to wait for football season. The Show Me Believers host Beaumont at 7:30 p.m. in an indoor league game, and all youth from ages 3-18 get in free when accompanied by an adult. Oh by the way, St. Vincent graduate Scott Pingel caught six touchdown passes in the Believers' last win.

    The first 25,000 fans age 16 and over will receive a Cardinals cap from SBC as part of an obvious theme night. SBC is international, intercoastal, and intercontinental. Are you picking up a pattern here? The Cards and Orioles are playing in an interleague game at 7:10 p.m., part of six-game interleague home stand.

    Saturday

  • I hear some weak, muffled cries in Fan Speak for a minor-league baseball team in Cape Girardeau. This is as good as it gets, for now: St. Louis Printers at Capahas in a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Capaha Field. And as usual the Capahas' opening day roster featured a hodge-podge of new and old faces, but somehow they'll pull it all together. They always seem to do.

    Sunday

  • Summer baseball is unofficially here, since the first day of summer is still 19 days away. The Cape Riverdogs play the Southern Illinois Merchants in a doubleheader at Capaha at 1:30 p.m.

    David Wilson is a sports writer for the Southeast MIssourian and a student at Central High School. His column "The Week Ahead" appears every Monday.

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