Tagged: Sports

Tweet tweet tweet! Spent the weekend working; occasionally watched important sporting events (CFL, NASCAR, etc.)

I have no life at the moment and therefore I have no time to post, so instead here are Retweets of important happenings from the weekend, starting with the ‘Riders

And then NASCAR

Finally, news about the box office egg laid this opening weekend by Justice League.

That is all.

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CTV has whacked the best part of local TV news: the sportscast. Not cool, CTV!


I just found out Bell has whacked the sports segment from several CTV stations across Canada. From the information I’ve gathered the stations impacted include Calgary, Vancouver, Barrie, Kitchener, London and Windsor. (I notice CTV Saskatoon had a sportscast tonight, so it looks like they were spared.)

Most of these stations got the bad news this week. Among the people whacked in Calgary was Lisa Bowes who I knew from my own sports TV days in southern Ontario. I was interning at The Score the same time she was there. 

I’m not exactly sure what these stations will be doing in the future. It sounds like the sports segment might end up coming from a national feed! The problem is a national feed will always give local sports teams the shaft. I’ve seen Citytv try to go this route and it is an absolute cheapskate way to do sports, and viewers see right through it and don’t tune in.

The reason this latest move by CTV is dumb is because many people tune in just to watch the sports! This is where you get your information on local happenings like junior hockey or the university athletics, or who won at curling, and so on. And sports is a huge part of the life of a community – it certainly is in the place I am now, and it was a big part of Peel Region when I was reporting there for cable TV. One of my ex-sports colleagues there liked to say sports was the best part of the newscast, and he was right! It certainly livens things up and provides a respite from the doom and gloom of the rest of the newscast.

Anyway, this is more depressing news for the media in Canada. I understand many journalists at the Vancouver Sun/Province got whacked last week, too. But the real people who get whacked whenever this happens are (a) readers, and (b) viewers. 

This industry is being run into the ground! There, that’s my rant about the media for tonight.

Update (June): Now CTV has gotten around to the rest of the country in getting rid of sportscasts. Saskatoon and Regina got whacked! Here is the reaction in Montreal! Depressing.

Arena football the latest pro sport to hit China


There was a bit of football history made over in China over the last 24 hours. 

It was the debut week of the China Arena Football League. This league, which has six teams, kicked off the first week of its “super series” in Beijing. The way it is set up is rather unusual in that one venue will host all the games for a particular week, and then the schedule rotates among the other five cities. (It’s sort of similar to the way Sevens Rugby operates, rotating among a number of venues.) The locales are Beijing, Dalian, Qingdao, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shanghai.

I couldn’t find much news about the league online except this Time article questioning whether any Chinese will care. Actually, even the Americans don’t care about this brand of football — the indoor brand. Still, this league looks like a solid effort based on what I see of it.

These are interesting times for sports fans in China. Of course, Beijing just acquired a KHL hockey team that is now into its first season, and the country has had its own major pro basketball league for years. They host an F1 race every year in the spring. And they will be hosting another Olympics again in 2022. Of course, all the major North American and European sports leagues see China as this growing emerging market, and I notice Peyton Manning was in China this week doing his part to promote the NFL there. All in all, it’s exciting stuff happening over there in sports.

Good news, sports fans: if you’re bored with the NHL there’s always the NBA

  

Tonight marks the start of the NHL playoffs, which normally for Canadians is as anticipated a moment as Christmas Day. Unfortunately for Canada, all the teams are American, which is bound to mean much less interest north of the U.S. border. 

The good news is that all is not lost — if the NHL bores you to death, don’t worry, life is more interesting in the NBA anyway. 

Tonight as the regular season ends, Kobe Bryant says farewell with his last NBA game. Also, tonight is the night the Golden State Warriors try to beat the Chicago Bulls record for wins in a season, as they go up against Memphis for win #73. 

Heck, if you Canadians are going to watch American teams play it might as well be the NBA, since Americans care more about that league anyway.

May I add the Toronto Raptors made the playoffs. That’s one more Canadian team in the entire NBA playoffs than there is in the entire NHL playoffs.

All the playoff action in Canada in 2016 is not from the NHL teams

Welcome to April, traditionally a big time for playoff activity here in frozen Canada. 

Unfortunately, the NHL won’t be providing any of it, because as of Wednesday night, all of Canada’s NHL teams are out of the playoffs. The last time this happened was 1970, and the only Canadian teams in the league that year were the Canadiens and Leafs. Although, technically, 2005 was another year without Canadian teams in the playoffs, because the whole league was shut down due to the labour dispute that year. But other than that, it dates back to 1970.

This news is a surprise to no one; hockey fans knew this was going to happen for weeks, but it’s still jarring for it to finally be official.

Let me tell you, it takes epic incompetence for all seven of Canada’s teams to manage to be this bad, since the NHL lets so many teams into the post-season — 16 of them. You would think at least one of these 7 Canadian teams would be half-decent, or at least, half-good enough. Heck, the NHL draft lottery gave the Edmonton Oilers several second chances at turning themselves around over the years with the No.1 pick, and last year they picked Connor McDavid. Yet here they are again, in the losers lottery, and in a position to get another high draft pick.

Compare this situation to the other sports in Canada where Canadian teams have really been doing well. Canada’s lone Major League Baseball and NBA teams, the Blue Jays and Raptors, not only have made the playoffs but won division titles. All three of Canada’s MLS soccer teams, the Whitecaps, Impact and Toronto FC, made the playoffs last fall and it was the first time in MLS history that has happened. At least two National Lacrosse League teams from Canada are going to be in (the Rush and likely the Roughnecks), and of course the CFL is all-Canadian anyway. The bottom line is that the vast majority of Canadian major league teams in every sport operating in Canada is a playoff team, with the exception of all the Canadian NHL teams. 

But of course this is nothing new. Canadian NHL teams have been stinking it up ever since 1993, the last time a Canadian team won a Stanley Cup (the Canadiens). The last time a Canadian team even made the finals was 2011 (the Canucks). Recent years have been really bad, with both Canadian playoff teams going down in the first round in 2012 (Canucks and Senators) and only one team making the playoffs at all in 2014 (the Canadiens). Last year, it looked like Canada was turning the corner as five teams made it, but then they were all gone by the end of the second round anyway. 

Yet this is supposed to be Canada’s favorite sport! Why, then, do Canadian fans keep on watching this sub-par hockey product, you say? Actually, they aren’t — the ratings have been down for Hockey Night in Canada all season, and the midweek game ratings have been even worse, according to reports. And it’s all because this year in particular, Canada’s teams have been awful. There has been a lot of talk about that expensive Rogers NHL contract and how much of a bath they are going to take on this year’s playoffs. Folks over there are right to be freaking out, because really, no one in Canada cares anymore. The only people in Canada who still care about the NHL are people entering these playoff hockey drafts, and interest in that is probably down, too. 

It will be very interesting to see how Canadian fans react, since the Cup playoffs are supposed to be the highlight of the year. But I know for a fact that interest goes right down the drain whenever the last Canadian team is KOed in the playoffs. Now that all of them are KOed, and with a few games still left to go in the regular season, what are Canadian fans supposed to do other than sit and watch American teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs? 

Well, there is the Raptors, who will be in the NBA playoffs, so you can expect all the playoff interest in Toronto will focus on them. Plus, Major League Baseball returns this weekend, so the Blue Jays will be on if you’re dying to see a Canadian team play something. (For those who can’t wait, the Blue Jays play the Red Sox in preseason play in Montreal today.)

The National Lacrosse League still has a few weeks to go before their playoffs. And of course there is still the AHL and yes, junior hockey. Here in Saskatchewan alone, the WHL and SJHL playoffs are going full blast, and in fact our local Battlefords North Stars are having an excellent run of their own. The North Stars are in action tonight, against the Flin Flon Bombers, in the first game of the SJHL semifinals. 

Word of advice – stay clear of the penalty box tonight, guys. That is all for now.

Work update for Sept. 28

  

Here is another update on what is going on for me this week on my “sports beat”, because that’s pretty much what it is for the most part.

Tonight I return to political reporting briefly, as I cover the big federal election All-Candidates forum happening downtown. Tomorrow night, though, it’s once again North Stars hockey versus Melville in SJHL action, so I will be in the Civic Centre press box again for that. Also, my story on this past weekend’s North Stars SJHL action is now up

Then on Thursday, I am covering high school football again — I think it is John Paul II Collegiate hosting Meadow Lake. So the work is piling up, and it is leaving me with no time for any sort of life at the moment. 

The real news out of here is that it appears my tenure as Temporary Interim Sports Reporter is going to last for a while longer, at least — well past Oct. 1, anyway. 

Sorry, fans in the Northwest region. You are stuck with me and my lousy sports coverage in the interim.

Rundown of a very busy last 72 hours in sports

It has been a busy last couple of weeks for myself on the sports beat. On the local sports scene alone in the past 72 hours I have covered two high school football games, an SJHL game, a AAA midget hockey game, and a roller derby game.

As you may know, roller derby is on the comeback again and lots of women are playing it, and we now have an organized league here that has regular matches. The local roller derby game was heavily promoted as the “Blood Moon” game because of the supermoon lunar eclipse that is happening late tonight.

I took a lot of photos but the story will have to be a short one. Unfortunately, it became obvious rather quickly last night that I have absolutely no clue what the rules are for roller derby.

Today, I file the pictures I’ve taken over the last couple of days and hopefully after that I might be able to rest my back, which is acting up again due to all this writing and blogging I am doing lately. I clearly am overdue for that vacation which I have been putting off over and over again. I need to finally use my backlog of vacation time, eventually.

Other thoughts about other happenings in sports:

The Toronto Blue Jays have officially ended their 22-year playoff drought and have clinched at least the home field for the wild card game — which they hopefully won’t need to play because they lead the division by four games and their magic number to clinch over the New York Yankees is five.

Needless to say, I am a very happy and proud Blue Jays fan today. Beyond the fact that they’re winning, they are also exciting to watch. The home runs have been just flying lately.

They had their ace David Price on the mound yesterday against Tampa Bay and it was kind of a bad day for pitchers in general, but the Blue Jays did manage to win 10-8. Today’s game is the last home game of the regular season so hopefully the Jays can get one more crucial win at home before they go on the road. It is great to see Blue Jays fever return to Rogers Centre and all over the country. May I note it is far more fun being a baseball fan when your team is “in it.”

I should also note the same is true in football. But alas, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are not “in it”, though they do remain mathematically alive as they face the Montreal Alouettes at home. I was surprised to find out that they only have one more home game after this, against Edmonton, and I am going wow, football is almost over already here?

Maybe Canadian football should expand its season so it’s as long as the Australian football season. On that note — Hawthorn and West Coast Eagles are set for the Grand Final.

And if you think plane ticket prices are bad in Canada, due to the state of our dollar and so on, apparently for West Coast fans it’s cheaper to fly to London, England from Perth than it is to fly to Melbourne for the Grand Final.

Anyway, we don’t have any of these problems in Saskatchewan, because Winnipeg is close enough that we don’t even need to fly there for the Grey Cup. Apparently, ticket sales are still slow.

In other ticket sales, only 7500 showed up for Connor McDavid and the NHL preseason game between the Oilers and Wild in Saskatoon. Not surprised, really, there was really not a lot of buzz out there for the game and plenty of the usual local negativity about preseason NHL hockey and all that.

And season ticket sales are now on for the new Saskatchewan Rush in the National Lacrosse League, so hopefully they get some fan support.

The biggest obstacle is familiarizing a lot of local fans with the game, as this is still more of a football-hockey-curling area. So a lot of fans might be wondering if they would like pro lacrosse. Folks, all you need to do is just go on YouTube and see the videos there of NLL games, especially some of ones featuring the Toronto Rock’s championships from the early 2000s. That was intense stuff, with winning goals scored in the final second of the game and so on.

That ought to give you an idea, but if that doesn’t work, check out the coverage and watch the videos of the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships 2015 going on right now in upstate New York. Good stuff.

And that is all for now.

Starting today, my blog goes All-Sports for the rest of this month!

  
I have an announcement to make. In honour of the fact that I am now “Temporary Interim Sports Reporter” for the coming couple of weeks, I have decided to completely turn over my blog to sports for the duration. 

This will be until my “interim” tag is lifted and I can go back to covering news — I expect Oct. 1 or whereabouts. Then I’ll go back to posting what I normally post.

That means, for now, (a) no coverage of the election, and (b) no coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival — although I notice eTalk and ET Canada, and Citytv, seem to be doing a good enough job of their live feeds. In fact, I notice Tanya Kim is with Citytv now, doing their red carpet coverage. 

Bottom line for me, though, is I have nothing to add about the film festival anyway because I’m not there.  Maybe I’ll go to The Martian or Black Mass or these other films when they hit the cinemas later on.

As for my whereabouts, I am covering the SJHL hockey season beginning tonight at the Civic Centre when the Battlefords North Stars host the Kindersley Klippers. The North Stars will also be on the road tomorrow in Kindersley, but I will not be at that one, it’s too far away.

As an aside, this is one year in particular when everyone is really, really happy to see hockey back, because this football season has been a BUST. 

It’s not just CFL season that is a bust, it’s also the CIS season! Tonight’s big university contest is between the Rams and Huskies in Saskatoon. Of course, both teams are 0-2. So yeah, it has been a big disappointment for everyone.

As for other football news — only in Saskatchewan is there a quarterback controversy for a lousy 1-10 football team! 

Veteran QB Kevin Glenn will start for the Saskatchewan Roughriders against the Ottawa RedBlacks, much to the consternation of fans who want to see the Riders develop young QB Brett Smith. 

People, get off the ledge. This Riders season is a write off, and it really doesn’t matter who plays. Smith has had enough playing time as it is and will likely get even more once the team is officially eliminated. As for Glenn, he is your best chance at winning right now and probably your best chance of evaluating the receivers and other talent on offence. On top of that, he’s still getting paid, so you might as well make him earn a paycheck in the meantime. 

Overall, this silly “QB controversy” means little in the grand scheme of things and getting all worked up about it is not worth the effort. It’s just more pointless drama being cooked up to maintain what little interest fans have left in this season. Folks here need to settle down and quit drinking so much Pilsner, already. 

It’s a very light Sports News from Nowhere this All-Star week

  

Welcome to what is surely the most boring week in all of sports, and that is Baseball All-Star Week. I don’t know about you, but I usually spend this week doing other things — like watching the auto racing in Saskatoon. There are not too many other sports operating during the next four days. There is minor league baseball so I expect to tune in to a few of those games. Also, the CFL is taking advantage of the situation with a game between Calgary and Toronto tonight. 

In MLS play, Chicago plays Columbus on Wednesday night, so that should provide relief for those of you who don’t want to watch the Espys

And in what ranks as deft scheduling, the Pan Am Games are on in Toronto, which is great timing for them because they have a captive audience of sports fans all week long.

Not to be outdone, the World Series of Poker Main Event is playing down to the final November Nine in Las Vegas this week. It’s kind of sad, really, when you think of it, that poker is one of the main “sports” going this week. Poker’s a game, not a sport! Still, it’s great. Anyway, as of this writing Canadian Daniel Negreanu was still in it. As well, the “Last Woman Standing” Kelly Minkin was still in it

Other news from the weekend: UFC 189 in Las Vegas is generally being hailed by the observers as one of the best cards ever. Connor McGregor’s victory over Chad Mendes was a war, and it was an absolute five-round brawl with Robbie Lawler finally beating Rory MacDonald, with both fighters ending up in the hospital. Anyway, McGregor wins the interim title and that should set things up for a huge pay-per-view once Jose Aldo is better.

And the Calgary Stampede has just wrapped up, but the big story there isn’t about any of the winners. No, it’s about the fact that four horses died this week during the Rangeland Derby. Clearly, this sport of chuckwagon racing has some deep thinking to do about all its safety issues. They need to do what auto racing did and come up with safety reforms to cut down on the fatalities. Motorsports managed to address their problems, the folks involved in chuckwagon racing should do the same. 

There! That’s that about that. 

Today, a Triple Crown-winning edition of Sports News from Nowhere

Welcome again to Sports News from Nowhere — so named because I am located nowhere near any of these sports going on. Such as Belmont Park, New York, where American Pharoah had his date with destiny on Saturday afternoon and ended 37 years of misery for the race fans there.

They showed scenes of the stands after Pharoah crossed the finish line first, and it was just jubilation there after he won the Triple Crown. The fans were way happier than the horse seemed to be.

This begs the obvious question “will this boost interest in horse racing,” given all the gloom and doom about the state of the sport’s popularity in North America. Honestly, I don’t know, it will take plenty of work to reverse the years of decline. I will say this — American Pharoah surely did more for horse racing this weekend than Mayweather and Pacquiao did for boxing with their ridiculous fight. If American Pharoah can’t boost horse racing’s popularity with the mainstream public after this epic performance, nothing can.

As for sports that are popular among the fans, Cleveland and Golden State continue to do battle in the NBA finals, and despite Kyrie Irving being out for the series with his bust knee, the Cavaliers managed to win game two in OT thanks to another epic performance by LeBron James, a triple-double. After game one I was all ready to write off Cleveland, but if there is one thing that is the Warriors’ Achilles heel so far in this series it has been their inability to stop LeBron. 44 points in game one and 39 last night. If this keeps up, the hapless city of Cleveland might actually celebrate a championship after all. 

Finally, the Women’s World Cup of Soccer is well under way here in Canada and it’s great to see what are usually CFL stadiums actually filled with fans, for a change. I saw the scene at that first game between Canada-China in Edmonton, and the stadium and the city looked great on TV. Totally world-class. 

But the locale didn’t please everyone. The big controversy prior to game one was that ridiculous article in the Globe and Mail by Cathal Kelly complaining about how the opening game of the Cup should have been in Toronto, because Toronto’s the most important city in Canada and so on. Well, the folks in Edmonton and the rest of Canada were insulted, and they should be, because there is far more to Canada than Toronto. 

But face it, folks, the real reason you’re getting this Toronto-centric column from Kelly is because Toronto is beside themselves that they aren’t hosting any games at all! Because Toronto is hosting the Pan Am Games, they have to skip out on the Cup. This must drive Torontonians crazy. Every summer when a World Cup is held, people in Toronto absolutely get into it and go to their favourite watering holes to cheer on their favourite countries. The locals there practically consider it their tournament. So to finally have a FIFA World Cup event in Canada, with Toronto on the outside with no games at all, is surely a jolt to the system. Fans there must be reeling. 

Then again, we don’t have any World Cup games in Saskatchewan, either. But our reaction is different. It’s more an indignant “I don’t care and it’s FIFA’s loss, and when is CFL season starting again?” 

The answer to that last question is: tonight! Pre-season game is on between Hamilton and Ottawa! Woo hoo! And that is it for now.

Weekend off, so I’ll be watching plenty of sports on Saturday and Sunday

This is not a work weekend for me fortunately, so I plan to spend the next couple of days catching up on my real priorities, which include watching the big sporting events.

On Saturday, it is the UEFA Champions League finale between Juventus and Barcelona. 

Also that day, American Pharoah tries to win the Belmont and the Triple Crown.

Also this weekend, and overshadowed by the corruption scandal, is the start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup of Soccer in Canada. On Sunday, it is the F1 Canadian Grand Prix. Hopefully, people in Canada remember it’s on.

And in the biggest game of the weekend, the Saskatchewan Roughriders hold their Mock Game at training camp in Saskatoon, bahahaha! Well, what else is there here? This is Saskatchewan, after all. That’s it for now.

Sorry folks, I went to a movie and had no time to post about all the news

Well, I have had no time to give my thoughts on the launch of the Hillary Clinton campaign, or the launch of the Marco Rubio campaign, or about Rand Paul feuding with the reporters, or about President Barack Obama in Panama with Raul Castro, or about the Aaron Hernandez verdict, or any of that. 

What happened is I covered a city council meeting on Monday, and then with the weather allowing for decent road conditions for a change, I finally was able to get to Saskatoon to watch a movie on Cheap Tuesday. I am slowly, very slowly, starting to get my life back again. Now the Stanley Cup playoffs are on and I am tuning in to that, along with baseball and other stuff.

But it leaves no time for blog posts. In short, my real life and interests — which have little to do with news — are crowding out the real news I usually put up here. 

Sorry, folks, you’ll just have to deal with it for now. And now, back to watching sports on TV.

Spending the holidays watching sports; ticked that hockey is bumping bowl games on Canadian TV

The best part of the holidays for me is the multitude of sports that are on TV right now.

On Christmas Day we had a full day of the NBA. Then on Boxing Day we had the Barclay’s Premier League, followed by the usual Spengler Cup and World Junior Hockey action we expect on Boxing Day from TSN. Today is more of the same — more hockey on Canadian TV.

As well, there is the big Mac’s AAA midget hockey tourney going on in Calgary and a lot of local teams are playing there, and their audio is being streamed live at their website.

We are also deep into bowl season. I ought to be thrilled about this but I’m not.

Now I have to rant and rave again about “life in Canada.” My beef is that a lot of US bowl games are not getting shown in Canada.

Today is a perfect example — instead of seeing the Military Bowl feed from ESPN, TSN’s feeds are all hockey — World Juniors and the Spengler Cup. The World Junior game isn’t even a good matchup, either. It’s Sweden clobbering Denmark! And yet we’re getting that lousy game on four of TSN’s five feeds!

Seriously, guys, no room for the Military Bowl on even one channel? I gather we are in store for the same nonsense for the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, too.

The same thing happened on Boxing Day to other ESPN bowl games, too, as they got bumped by hockey. A bowl game in Detroit involving North Carolina vs. Rutgers wasn’t even shown, which bugged me to no end because the Tarheels football program once produced a quarterback who went on to stardom with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. That’s right, Darian Durant!

So we were deprived of a chance to see his former school play in a bowl game! Aaargh!

Thank goodness we get signals from CBS and ABC, otherwise we wouldn’t be watching the Sun Bowl or Independence Bowl either, today.

Stuff like this, plus our rapidly deteriorating cold weather situation in frozen Saskatchewan, almost makes me want to move to the USA. I know that apparently 80 percent of Canada missed out on a White Christmas this year, but not here. We’re truly getting shafted — by the weather, and by Canada’s TV networks!

I know these are minor bowl games and the final results aren’t life or death, but as a football fan in a football province, I want to at least have the option to see these games! At the very least, I want the option to watch something during my holidays that doesn’t remind me of winter – something hockey succeeds at only too well.

Work update: no longer filling in on sports, now covering exciting city budget talks

Just a note for local hockey fans, the new sports reporter arrived last week which means I can finally dial back on filling in on that beat and carrying out several jobs at once. I filed this piece about Hockey Canada’s Century Tour that was in our area last week, which pretty much wraps up my sports efforts for now.

Now, though, it is right back to the grind as I have several hours of budget deliberations ahead of me this week and possibly next. One of these days I might find some time to actually do some Christmas shopping, but not now. Don’t expect much blogging here until later this week, as I am back to not having a life, unfortunately.

Once more, I’m on assignment as “temporary interim sports reporter” again

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Work update: as you can no doubt tell from reading that piece on the Roughriders, I have been filling in on the sports desk for the last several days, and this situation will go on for another week after this.

To that end, I am pleased to announce that, for now, I am covering the SJHL again!

I wrote this piece on the North Stars-Humboldt game and must also brave the cold to go to the games between Battlefords and Weyburn tonight and on Sunday at the Civic Centre. A week ago, I also covered the infamous “Friday Night Fights” game versus Yorkton which saw players and coaches suspended due to all the fighting that happened.

Also, I should point out I have no life and will be on assignment next week for three nights in a row, and I really hope the weather warms up at least a little because I am sick of having to remove snow from the top of my car all the time. Ideas about cheap sun vacation deals are welcome. Anyway, that is all for now.

NOW A FEW THOUGHTS ON TSN IN THE POST-NHL ERA

TSNWhen news broke that TSN lost national rights to NHL hockey for 12 years, my first suggestion was they become big football fans over there. Turns out TSN is following all my advice, even before I provide it.

It turns out right after Rogers took the NHL rights, Bell swiped away the Rogers late-Sunday-afternoon NFL package that Rogers has held for the longest time — going back to the old CFMT-TV days in Toronto. Bell also swiped away the entire NFL digital rights as well.

This is big news — it basically means the NFL belongs to CTV and TSN all day on Sundays, right from the early-afternoon package through the late afternoons, to the NBC Sunday night game, and into the Monday night game. On top of that, CTV has the entire NFL playoffs. Rogers is reduced to the Thursday night NFL Network package. I suppose having a Thursday game is better than nothing, but Rogers sure doesn’t look like the place for pro football at any point in the near future.

Combined with the CFL package on TSN, Bell basically owns football in Canada. In November from now on, they’ll be able to show an NFL doubleheader on CTV, another NFL doubleheader on one of the TSNs, and a CFL playoff game doubleheader on the other TSN during the afternoon hours.

That creates some excellent possibilities for programming over there if TSN decides to give football the kind of saturation coverage they currently devote to hockey, They could put on all kinds of football pre-game and highlight shows with the staff they have now, and basically give it the kind of coverage that we usually see from the Americans. Personally, I think it’s about time the sport got that sort of treatment in Canada, because many football fans in Canada are sick and tired of seeing that sport treated as second-class in this country by the nation’s media.

I don’t know what all the football coverage will mean, though, for TSN’s coverage of auto racing on Sundays. It shouldn’t impact Formula 1 since those races usually air in the mornings, but it could impact the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Coverage of the NFL and CFL on TSN could crowd NASCAR right out in November, during the “Chase.” Maybe Bell puts NASCAR on CTV2 or something like that. Then again, the package could end up moving to Sportsnet now that they have time to fill on Sundays. The bottom line is I have no idea what is going to happen. We’ll see, but in any event more football is a good thing for TSN.

The second big thing TSN has done is they have moved swiftly to re-sign a lot of their best talent, including James Duthie, Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and just recently Gord Miller. I get the feeling TSN is going to ramp up their coverage of the World Juniors as well as general news coverage about hockey, so you’ll keep on seeing their Trade Deadline shows and Free Agency coverage with the group they have now.

What they really need to do, though, is steal away the regional NHL packages that Sportsnet currently has now — for the Oilers, Flames, Canucks, Senators — and put the regional games on TSN. That would solve all their hockey coverage problems, but that’s easier said than done.

The most recent news from the other day is that TSN has extended their deal for programming with ESPN, prompting a lot of dismissive talk from people about how TSN is turning into the ESPN of the north. Well, it always has been the ESPN of the north, there is nothing new about that. At least this will mean programming like more college football, more college basketball and the NBA. I think that’s good, because if there is one thing I am really ticked off about, it is a lack of college football, college hoops and NBA coverage on Canadian television. Instead, we usually get stuck with the usual over-saturation of hockey coverage instead.

I’m sure soccer fans out there have similar gripes, too. Anyway, it looks like TSN will keep up with coverage of that sport — they already share half the Barclays Premier League with Sportsnet, and just recently came word TSN has grabbed the entire rights to the Vancouver Whitecaps in MLS.

This is exactly what TSN needs to do. Soccer is on the rise as a TV property not just on Canadian TV but American TV as well. A big reason why is because these games simply look great on HDTV. But it’s also because fans in North America are slowly but surely realizing soccer is about as big-time as it gets in sports in the world. Billions of people in the rest of the world cannot be wrong.

Anyway, that is my extensive screed about TSN and what they ought to be doing. Basically, they don’t even need my advice because they are doing all the things I think they should be doing anyway, given the utter disaster that has befallen them. Seriously, losing the NHL national package really is a disaster, given the outrageous number of Canadians who are hooked on hockey, but as I point out, it isn’t the end of the world.

NEWS FROM NOWHERE IS NOW UP FOR A TURKEY-FILLED LONG WEEKEND

Welcome to another News from Nowhere, this time coinciding with Thanksgiving weekend here in frozen Canada — although to be honest, around here it is not “frozen” yet. But it will be, soon enough, so I’m enjoying what is four full days off from work before all that happens.

After this post, I intend to do absolutely no journalism, no writing at all, until next Tuesday when I return to work. Also, I’m going to have to seriously think about the next few months to come — such as winter getaway plans. Seriously, there is absolutely no way I am going to spend my entire winter here in Saskatchewan. I’ve got to head someplace which isn’t cold and overrun with snow. Arrgh!! 

The big story here in Saskatchewan lately has been CRIME. We’ve had some bad incidents lately around the province, but also in our own areaI wrote a column on the local situation here.

Beyond that, people have mainly been freaking out because a dangerous sex offender was on the loose. This guy had thrown away his electronic monitoring bracelet in Lloydminster, prompting schools in a number of places to go on lockdown.

We were closely following that story in our newsroom and getting email updates from the police about it. Some people were scared that he was going to come up here to our city. Now, we hear, he has fled to the States.

Anyway, it is stories like these that are the reason why I need four days off. Stories about criminals on the loose is really, really depressing.

Other news from nowhere for this week: As expected and predicted it was the Liberals who threw out the incumbent NDP in Nova Scotia’s provincial election. Not even Premier Darrell Dexter could save his own seat in what was a total rout of the NDP.

From the USA — those jokers in Congress and the White House are still haggling for a deal during this government shutdown and there are signs of progress.

Some bad news from the world of film criticism: Stanley Kauffmann has died.

In entertainment news I noticed ABC News has this report about a Baywatch reunion done for Entertainment Tonight. It turns out a lot of cast members had weight clauses that forbid them from gaining five pounds!! Some of the female cast members also spoke of some of the cattiness on the set.

Wow, brings back memories eh? I still love the Baywatch babes. (Pam! Gena Lee! Carmen! Donna! Brande! Did I say Pam?) I love the Nineties.

In sports, the Formula 1 campaign has turned into a runaway for Sebastian Vettel and I noticed this piece in the Daily Mail about him, comparing him to Fangio and Schumacher. Like those greats, though, his dominance is turning this season into a big bore. He can wrap up another title this weekend at Suzuka, Japan, with four races to spare.

Also noticed a story about Sportsnet’s Ian Mendes, who recently quit and went to TSN Radio mainly to be closer to the family. He was getting fed up with all the travel taking him away from what is really important in life.

You know, I hear him. I can relate because of all the lost evenings going to cover meetings when I could be home watching, uh, sports.

Also in sports, I noticed Slate did up a map of the USA pointing out all the regional sports.  It’s pretty interesting when you look at some of the regional sports tastes down there — with North Carolina being such a NASCAR hotbed and all the boxing activity in Las Vegas, and Jai-Alai being such a big Florida sport — though I notice a lot of stories about that sport dying and so on.

One commenter over at Deadspin did up a map for Canada — which was pretty much all hockey except for a certain province that likes football, apparently. (Take a guess which one.)

I think that is it for the moment.

TOO BUSY WATCHING SPORTS ON THIS FINAL WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER — NOT TO MENTION THE BASEBALL SEASON

I ought to update this blog with USA government shutdown news, and a review of the Kenyan mall massacre, and news of the breakthroughs on Syria and Iran. But I’ve just been too busy watching sports to bother with any of that.

On Friday, I was covering the Battlefords North Stars game and watching them lose again, this time to Melville 3-2. This weekend I have been watching football, NASCAR and baseball on this final weekend of the baseball season. Given the way the weather is acting around here, with the rain and winds rolling in, all I have to say is —  yeah, it’s time for baseball to get on with its postseason. Time to think of packing it in.

It might as well have been the final weekend of the Saskatchewan Roughriders season, the way they played against Montreal. Their season is really unraveling fast.

Anyway, it looks like I am going to be pre-occupied with other activities this week, so it may be a couple of days or so before I can update things here. Things are going to be busy on the news beat here, at least for a few days.

I AM CURRENTLY THE INTERIM SPORTS REPORTER FOR THE PAPER. DEAL WITH IT, CANADA

This is for readers who are wondering why you are seeing my byline on the sports pages of the News-Optimist. No, I am not the new sports guy, I am filling in until the new guy shows up.

So there is no need for sports fans in the Northwest region to panic or jump off a cliff. You will only have to suffer my sports coverage for only a couple more weeks.

At least, I hope it’s only a couple more weeks. Having to devote my time to both news and sports kind of takes me away from my other journalistic pursuits. Such as, for example, my live continuing coverage of Kelly Brook (see below).

NORTH KOREA ANTICS, CYPRUS CHAOS, AND THE REST OF THE NEWS FROM NOWHERE

Welcome to the “World is Going to Heck” edition of News from Nowhere. Seriously, what is going on? Financial chaos, tinpot dictators, Jarome Iginla traded — you name it.

First I want to talk about the financial mess in Cyprus, with the bank accounts being raided by up to 40 percent to bail the country out. The banks are now back open but under tight controls.

I don’t know nearly enough about this mess because I’m too busy covering provincial balanced budgets in our recession-free jurisdiction (what recession?), but all I have to say is this is not the kind of thing that is going to inspire confidence in the banking system. Banks ought to be places where you have confidence in placing your deposits there. If you put your money in a bank and then lose a hefty chunk of it because of other peoples’ incompetence and bad decisions, why bother putting money in a bank? You’re better off hiding it under the bed.

Next I want to talk about Kim Jong-un, the crazed dictator of North Korea who has been busy tearing up peace agreements with South Korea and threatening all week to attack the United States. So far the Americans are treating this guy like an annoying bug who deserves to be squashed, but isn’t.   

Obviously this calls for some shuttle diplomacy, from the hilarious Dennis Rodman.

Seriously, though, I worry this nut Kim could do some serious damage and inadvertently start World War III. Hopefully this latest sabre-rattling will end the same way all the previous sabre-rattling ended, with nothing happening, but I have to wonder.   

Other news:

Lots of rumors going around that Jay Leno could be leaving the Tonight Show to be replaced by Jimmy Fallon.  

As well, the possibility is that the show could end up moving back to New York after, oh, 40-some years in beautiful southern California. Word is the show could move to take advantage of some New York film-and-TV tax credits. 

I have to say — wow, wouldn’t this be Leno’s final come-uppance after what happened to his other rivals over the years. Still, nothing’s official yet and we will keep you posted on this developing situation.

The other thing I have to say is why don’t we do something here in Saskatchewan like what New York is doing with film and TV tax credits? Then maybe we’d be in the running for Jimmy Fallon.

Ha ha ha — my big unfunny joke of the day. Right now we’re barely in the running to attract Punxsutawney Phil, let alone any TV shows.

Did you hear about the story about that Ohio prosecutor who wanted to have Phil criminally indicted for his lousy early spring prediction? And then some handler for Phil fell on his sword and took responsibility for “misinterpreting” Phil’s prediction? I don’t buy it.

Phil got it wrong and and this is nothing short of a cover-up. Phil should go to jail. All these groundhogs need to spend some time in the slammer for getting all our hopes up. Right now it’s still minus temperatures where I am, not to mention plenty of snow, and in fact the forecasters here say it’s going to be cold next week, too. We’re going to be seeing minus temperatures in April. This weather here is terrible. Anyway, it’s too bad the indictment was dropped, because Phil is a fraud and he should go to jail.

In other legal news, the Jodi Arias murder trial continues to lurch and get great ratings for HLN, and this is where you can find out all the latest and be caught up. Mind you, I have not been able to follow much of the trial due to my work commitments. So I have plenty of catching up to do myself.

The trades are ramping up in advance of the trading deadline in the NHL next week, and the biggest one just happened this week as Jarome Iginla has been traded from Calgary to Pittsburgh. 

Of course, TSN ended up with egg on its face when they reported all day Wednesday that Iginla was going to go to the Bruins. It turns out the Bruins were definitely in the running, but the deal never got done.

While this was going on our local Saskatoon Blades were melting down in Medicine Hat. And with the  Swift Current Broncos also punted in Calgary last night, it means the WHL playoffs are over for all the teams in Saskatchewan.

All I have to say is the Blades’ performance this week was a disgrace and yet another humiliation inflicted on the hockey fans of Saskatoon. People should definitely be fired over this. What is stranger still is the fact that the Blades will play again in the Memorial Cup tournament in May, just because they are hosting the tournament. That’s the only reason they are there – they’re certainly not there on merit. If the Blades wind up winning the Cup after this week’s debacle, you can bet the knives will also be out to change the Memorial Cup format.

In horse racing news, the Dubai World Cup runs Saturday and here is a Forbes article talking more about that richest race in the world. 

In auto racing, IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe is a national hero now after winning in St. Petersburg, and the NASCAR race in Fontana ended in wild Mike Tyson-fight fashion. In golf, his win in Bay Hill means Tiger Woods is back on top — likely due to his love life picking up again. What Lindsey Vonn sees in this guy, I don’t know.

Finally in Saskatchewan news, bye bye to retiring CBC Saskatchewan news anchor Costa Maragos. His final newscast was Thursday evening and you can read more about his final day here and about his appearance on the Morning Edition show that morning.

That is all for now.

LET’S FACE FACTS — COMPARED TO FOOTBALL, THE OTHER SPORTS ARE NO SUBSTITUTE

I must say, this past weekend without the NFL was definitely a tough one. Looking at it objectively, I must say — you cannot repNFLlogolace the NFL.

It just is obvious looking at these other sports that they all seem second-rate in comparison to the NFL. In my eyes, the only sport that is even close, among the team sports anyway, is soccer. 

I’m not talking about MLS, I’m referring to Barclays Premier League and the other top European leagues. You have players play in front of big crowds in games that are basically life or death — like American football is every week. The problem is the biggest soccer games are all overseas, with many of them happening the minute you wake up in the morning. I’ve been following the English league more and more, but that aspect of watching games for breakfast really takes the fun out of the sport from a North American standpoint.

Plus, you have all these commentators in their English accents. Watching this sport makes you feel like a foreigner. So it’s kind of tough for the North Americans to get too excited about it for that reason.

For me, the sport that has kind of emerged as my replacement programming for the NFL in the off-season has to be auto racing, especially NASCAR — but admittedly, it’s a niche sport and very, very different from football. On top of that, its season runs forever. Major League Baseball is still several weeks off and while the UFC is good, it isn’t on every week. Plus, there’s the problem of having to pay to watch it, which reduces cheapskates like me to tuning in to the prelims instead on cable.

As for the other sports, they really seem second-rate compared to the NFL in my mind. Who really cares about regular-season college basketball with most of these no-name players — it only gets decent once the NCAA tournament starts. And who cares about the NBA. The problem with the NBA is not the product or even the stars; it’s the lack of drama.

These games are basically meaningless, and even if they weren’t, everyone assumes LeBron James and Miami will win anyway. The players don’t treat these games as if they are life or death, but then again, why should they? Too many teams get into the playoffs anyway. The NBA regular season is a farce.  

It’s as big a joke in the NHL, a league notorious for allowing everyone into the playoffs. The team that won the Cup last year, Los Angeles, barely made it in the playoff field, yet won the whole thing. The real problem for hockey is the games only get really interesting when it is playoff time. As LA proved last year, regular season hockey in the NHL is usually a pointless waste of time.

That is, when the NHL actually holds regular seasons. In fact, the NHL continues to get slammed for the way it handled its most recent lockout. A story has been running about this former Edmonton Oilers fan who is tossing all his memorabilia and Center Ice packages, and claims he is not a fan of the NHL anymore. It’s funny, because all the usual fans seem to be coming back to it in droves like nothing has happened. Certainly, our national media in Canada has come back with its obsessive NHL coverage. But I’m convinced this lockout marginalized the sport in a lot of places, especially in the USA.

You tune in the sports shows down there in the USA, and it’s obvious nobody cares about the NHL there. Frankly the way this league has conducted itself, with frequent lockouts and even an entire cancelled season, and it’s a wonder they get any coverage there at all. There. That’s my sports rant for today.

SPORTS NEWS LATELY HAS BEEN CRAZY, TO SAY THE LEAST

Having just come back from chilly Las Vegas, where I spent a few days watching nonstop sporting events in sports books last week, I have to say — it has been a crazy January for sports news. I don’t know what’s prompted this outbreak of nuttiness, but something weird is going on in the world of sports, folks. 

The craziness started early when Brent Musburger started drooling over the Alabama quarterback’s girlfriend, Katherine Webb, on live TV during the BCS title game on ESPN.

Then you had Lance Armstrong confessing his doping sins to Oprah last week.

Then came this Manti Te’o fake dead girlfriend nonsense.

What could top that? Two brothers facing each other as coaches in the Super Bowl, perhaps?  Come to think of it, nothing can ever top this Manti Te’o craziness, ever.

SPORTS TALK NEWS: WFAN IS 25, PLUS BAD NEWS ON THE END OF MONTREAL’S TSN 990

Since we were talking this week about sports radio in Saskatchewan and the happenings there, I thought I would link up to a couple of articles on some other all-sports radio outside this province and the goings-on there.

First, here’s an article at Grantland on the legendary 660 WFAN New York, celebrating 25 years as an all-sports station. The article  gets into all the favorite personalities that have been at the station over the years — Mike and the Mad Dog, Don Imus, and others  — but also some of the famed callers such as Doris from Rego Park and the unforgettable Jerome from Manhattan.

Doris used to call in to talk about the Mets late at night on Joe Benigno’s show, with her constant cough and gravelly voice. Jerome would call up all the time to rant and rave and call for people to be traded or fired. He was hilarious. Seriously, the callers were the best thing about the station.

The one thing I miss about not living out East is not being able to listen to WFAN anymore — the signal is too far away and the stream is geoblocked from my country.

Second, here’s the story out of Montreal where Bell is planning to kill all-sports TSN 990 and replace it with an all-French all-sports station, RDS 990. Apparently Bell needed to follow some sort of CRTC directive connected to their takeover of Astral, so this is what they are doing. English-language Montreal sports fans are in shock over this news, which I guess came down last Tuesday. Calls are afoot to reverse this decision, which doesn’t take effect for a few months. I’m very surprised by this news because these guys had just come off their first year as flagship for the Montreal Canadiens, plus they were planning to move to 690 on the dial. They had already gotten the go-ahead from the CRTC to do that, but I guess they aren’t going to do that now, at least not as an English-language station anyway.

This is one less TSN radio station and another blow to English-language radio in Montreal. It just goes to show it ain’t easy to keep afloat an all-sports radio station, even in a big market like Montreal.

That’s all for now.

FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS, I’LL BE THE SPORTS GUY AT THE PAPER

That’s right, I’m covering sports for the next two weeks, filling in for the ‘real’ sports guy who is now on vacation ( and heading to the Craven Country Jamboree). My sports duties have started tonight with coverage of a girls’ softball tournament that will be running all this weekend. Next week, I’m covering golf. Fun stuff.

Hopefully, that will put me in a good frame of mind when I go on vacation right after he comes back. And what am I planning to do on my summer vacation time off? Why, what else– attend sporting events.

It figures.