Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The CBC Weighs In

The CBC has a reputation of high standards in journalism. They usually ask the right questions in that they don't shy away from tough questions that may make the interviewee uncomfortable. From shows like Marketplace to The Fifth Estate, the CBC has long been considered one of the leaders in news reporting and investigative journalism in Canada. The National, CBC's national news program, has been a front-runner in their reporting year after year, and it's in this ability that I was anxiously awaiting their piece on women's hockey. Last night, they aired the piece, and it's very interesting.

I won't say much before you watch the piece, so here it is in its 13:07 entirety. My comments are below.

First off, the piece is a very high overview of the women's leagues. There isn't any new news here unless you're completely unaware of how the two leagues are run. Personally, the narrator puts way too much emphasis on a few facts that are explained pretty easily - Rylan playing hockey in Florida, for example. While I commend the CBC for asking some tougher questions at the end of the piece, they really needed to dig into the facts about the leagues when comparing the two business models. In a 13-minute piece, though, that doesn't allow for a lot of digging to be done.

Are we ever going to get a different answer from Dani Rylan about the "investors"? At some point, there has to be a revenue stream that generates enough income to pay the bills. Investors can contribute money all they like, but if there are losses every year, at what point does the NWHL become a not-for-profit organization? More information needs to be sought on this. I expect the year-end financials for both the NWHL and the NWHL Foundation to show how the accounting model in the NWHL works.

When Rylan speaks of the Canada-US gold medal final from the Sochi Olympics, she really is forming a card-stacking fallacy. Yes, five million Americans watched the gold medal game, but there are more factors as to why people watched than just "an amazing hockey game". The hockey was outstanding as evidenced by the play of the players, but there's patriotism that comes into play. Canada and the US have had a long history of meeting in finals of various competitions, and it's this undying rivalry combined with personal patriotism that brought a lot of people to their TVs to watch the game. Yes, some were long-time hockey fans, but there were casual fans who tuned in just because "yay Canada" or "yay America". To assume that people are going to support the NWHL solely because they saw one amazing women's game is a major fallacy.

Megan Bozek and Tara Watchorn were quite good in their assessments of their respective leagues, and it's a telling sign when both players state that they believe a one-league format would be more beneficial than the current two-league format. For the vast number of people who have dismissed this idea, it seems the players are on the opposite side of the fence. As the narrator of the piece points out, the NHL and WHA suffered greatly when talent was divided. The women seem to recognize this, so maybe it's time to start listening to the players and their wishes when it comes to "growing the game".

What are your thoughts on this piece? How much do you know about the two women's leagues? Do these sorts of pieces make you more or less interested in the women's game? I'd like to hear some feedback on these questions and the CBC piece above. Sound off in the comments, and we can discuss!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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