As many know I have been writing a variety of business related articles for some time. This is a departure but I feel compelled to say what Canadians from coast to coast have expressed over the years. As a Speaker I have been fortunate enough to visit each province in Canada at least 50 times and every state in the union as well. Business has been a passion for me but sports has always been a passion as well. Although I love most sports, like most Canadians hockey is in my blood.
I know many markets in the USA have not felt our passion for hockey but it’s a great game that is our national pastime, some say obsession. Canada is a huge country that in relative terms is sparsely populated. In fact one of the largest countries in the world Canada has less than 30 million people. A large percentage of the population is in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Each city has an NHL franchise with fans that have a burning passion for hockey and sports in general.
In Canada the Montreal Canadiens are hockey’s most storied franchise and the most successful hockey franchise in NHL history. The Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups and only trail the New York Yankees in terms of championships. In Canada the next closest to Stanley Cup wins is the Toronto Maple leafs with 11 Stanley Cups. Toronto is Canada’s largest city and the home of TSN. Although this network claims to be The Sports Network many Canadians from coast to coast refer to them as The Toronto Sports Network. Many believe as I do that although they claim to be Canada’s sports network they are really a regional network focused on Toronto and not acting like a truly national sports network.
A couple of years ago I discovered sports boards on the TSN web site. I had never posted before and I soon discovered that trash talking in general was the rule of thumb. It reaches the highest levels of intensity between Canada’s biggest hockey markets Toronto and Montreal. The more time I spent on the web site the more I discovered the truth which is the thrust of this writing. Sports fans from across Canada are subjected to a barrage of articles, interviews and profiles on TSN’S team the Toronto Maple Leafs. Fans are constantly bombarded with interviews and irrelevant articles focused on the Leafs. They write an article when their manager takes a jet ride. They write an article when he sits on a camel. They write articles on his personal life and on and on it goes. Then there are seemingly endless profiles on their players from every imaginable angle while other sports markets in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Montreal are treated like second class citizens. Worst still the Maple Leafs don’t have a competitive team, have missed the playoffs for six years in a row and most recently an ESPN poll rated Toronto the worst sports city in North America.
Posting on these hockey boards opened my eyes to the harsh reality that TSN is a regional network pretending to be otherwise. On each board there are moderators. Their job is to make sure posters don’t get too personal or go too far, unless you’re a Leaf fan that is. I have noticed that Toronto posters seem to be able to break the rules and get away with it but when others do the same they don’t get their posts through. Some Leaf posters refer to Montreal fans cowards, liars, cheaters and sewer rats. I have seen Leaf posters make fun of French Canadians and call them toilet seats. This is not just the case with Montreal for Toronto fans take the same liberties with other Canadian cities as well. Please understand I have nothing against trash talking as long as all the posters have equal opportunity, the kind of equal opportunity a real national sports network should provide. Over the past months I have been verifying this reality with my own posts. A Toronto poster would hurl an insulting post that would make it through and I’d respond with the same post and it would not. Moderators, living in Toronto and working at TSN are obviously Leaf fans and lack any objectivity. This frustrates posters from coast to coast. When you travel as much as I have you hear this from frustrated fans everywhere.
This type of selective bias reached new heights recently. I mentioned earlier Toronto was recently voted the worst sports city in North America. This poll examined 122 sports franchises in North America, the majority of which are in the United States. The reality that Toronto, a Canadian city was voted worst sports city in North America is embarrassing to all Canadian sports enthusiasts. It is also a national sports story that needs to be reported to all Canadians, that’s what a national sports network is supposed to do. TSN did not report the findings of the ESPN poll at all and common sense tells us why. It clearly illustrates where TSN’s priorities are and that is to protect Toronto at all cost showing their true colors and a clear regional bias. Canadians from coast to coast refer to them as the Toronto Sports Network for a reason.
Like many Canadians I’m frustrated and I’ve had enough. I want TSN to know how many Canadians feel like I do. If you send me an e-mail through my web site I will forward all your e-mails to TSN, hopefully that way they’ll get the message. Like many Canadians I have no problem with a regional sports network supporting their local teams. Like many Canadians I have a problem when a network holds themselves out to be a national network when everyone knows they’re a regional network in disguise. We need a truly National Sports Network in Canada. I look forward to your feedback; things won’t change unless we change them.