Now, a post about the sports scene in Saskatchewan. Last night was one of the more significant nights of pro sports in our province in a long time.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders were playing their very first game at the new Mosaic Stadium, and it seems the stadium is getting a lot better reviews than the team is! At the same time, the Saskatchewan Rush were playing game two of the National Lacrosse League Champions Cup finals against the Georgia Swarm.
For those outside SK, these teams may say “Saskatchewan” but they are in two different cities. As the sign on the highway says: it’s South for the ‘Riders (Regina) and North for the Rush (Saskatoon).
The fact that both games were going at the same time surely impacted the Rush’s attendance: they didn’t even sell out their Cup finals game. No doubt, it was because so many fans opted for their usual drive to Regina to see the ‘Riders, who dominate sports media and sports interest in Saskatchewan so totally that it is insane.
Check out the media coverage from this past week and it’s been something like 90 percent ‘Riders, with the Rush getting the table scraps from Saskatoon media over the past couple of days. It actually gets to be kind of boring after a while — it’s all Riders all the time, basically.
Most of the media coverage has been on the quarterback battle. But with the much-touted Vince Young pulling a hamstring, that put his comeback on hold and people in Regina lost an opportunity to see him in action at the new stadium. Instead, the main battle Saturday was between Brandon Bridge and Bryan Bennett for a roster spot in a game that ultimately ended in a 25-25 tie.
Now, a big bone of contention for everyone in Saskatchewan last night was the lack of television coverage of both these games. Here was a pre-season game which was the historic first-one-ever at the new Mosaic Stadium, and yet TSN was showing French Open tennis and UFC Fight Night from New Zealand! Which is fine, but they have five channels. Couldn’t at least one of them have shown this game? There wasn’t even a live stream, either, for anyone to watch anywhere.
If you think that’s bad, what went down with the coverage of the NLL Cup finals game in Saskatoon was absolute bush league. First of all, there was no TV coverage of it at all, unlike last year when TSN showed it. There was not even local SaskTel MaxTV coverage like there was in previous games!
Okay, fine, then: there was still live streaming of the game on Twitter. Except when we all tried to tune in the game from Saskatchewan, we got geoblocked! We got stuck with a message claiming that due to “licensing restrictions” Twitter couldn’t show us the game. This made absolutely no sense, though, because Twitter had shown their past NLL games here, no problems.
I spent the whole first half tuning in an online radio feed of the Rush game while watching the UFC fights on television, and boy was I fuming. I was thinking maybe I should tune in the UFC more often and just say to hell with the NLL.
Finally, after half time, the NLL opened up their pay NLLTV stream to Canada free of charge, and so that was how we were finally able to see the Rush blow the game in the final seconds and then lose the Cup in OT, 15-14.
Honestly, this was terrible. Two big games of major importance to sports fans in Saskatchewan, meanwhile TSN and Sportsnet have 11 channels between them and not a single one showing either of them anywhere. No wonder these channels are referred to as “Toronto Sports Network” by people here. The Saskatchewan audience was not served at all Saturday night; our sports teams are being completely ignored. Why, again, are we paying big money on cable TV subscriptions? Why?
That’s my rant, now excuse me as I tune in the coverage of the Grand Prix race. From Montreal.