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Breaking Down 100 Good Points

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I don’t know if there’s any writing more disposable than sportswriting. Maybe grocery lists. Certainly posts like this. The best sportswriting is timeless: nobody’s ever going to forget about Pat Jordan, Red Smith or WC Heinz, let alone pieces like Norman Mailer’s report in the Ali/Frazier fight. But mostly, it’s uneventful stuff. “Then the Habs scored two quick ones, bang, bang, and it was 3-2 for the good guys,” that kind of thing. Most sportswriting is on deadline and is dated by the next day. It’s not meant to be read a week later.

That said, what I do is less reporting and more blogging. My title’s Contributor and I almost never get press credentials, although I don’t apply for many to begin with. And I’ve been lucky enough to bang out words on a weekly (and more usually, biweekly) basis for The Good Point, so there’s a little more latitude when it comes to writing. So instead of covering things, I usually write about whatever’s been happening in the world of sports and react to them. On a bad day, I’m not any more interesting than a hack columnist on some small town newspaper, offering uninteresting and instantly dated opinions (see: this column about the NHL coming to Markham). I feel for editor and general behind the scenes wizard Rob Boudreau, who deals with me every two weeks. He’s probably my most regular reader.

But on a good day, I’d like to think I’m able to shine a little light into some of the more offbeat corners of sports. Over the four years I’ve been writing at The Good Point, I’ve covered a huge range of topics, including some I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone else write about; I’m not sure if that’s a reflection of wider interests than the average sports-scribbler or on my complete inability to function as a journalist.

I recently filed my 100th post for The Good Point. I have no idea how I got to this number, I never thought I’d be there for a full year (then again, I always thought I’d be a beat writer of some sort by now). What follows is a few links to some of my favourite posts and a few words on each.

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Written by M.

July 23, 2013 at 10:00 am

Canadian net neutrality is also a sports issue

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The issue of Net Neutrality isn’t exactly one that most, if any, sports fan really concerns themselves with — if indeed they’ve even heard of it at all.

But it’s one they should be worried about, because it’s directly effecting the way sports broadcasting will head. And they should be warned — it’s a two pronged, complex issue.

The big part of this issue is that the bulk of the internet is controlled by the few, that a few internet providers can distribute bandwidth as they see fit: for a fictional example, an ISP (let’s say Comcast) can allot more bandwidth and show higher quality video for their services then that of their competitors (let’s say Hulu). Therefore, there is more incentive for their users to watch their videos then any others.

This isn’t illegal, but it’s not fair either.

In the sports world, we already see this to an extent: ESPN’s online video wing is ESPN360, where they show original programming, live streams of ESPN networks and out of market games. And they only let certain ISPs (who themselves have to pay for this service) allow users to see ESPN360. And ESPN can block a competitor from seeing these. For example, Comcast, who have their own competing sports network, aren’t on the list of participating providers.

Again, this isn’t illegal, but for sports fans it’s grossly unfair, like how Rogers Cable subscribers are being punished by CTV/Globemedia and not able to see TSN2.

In Canada, the CRTC is holding meetings about Candian Content in New Media and on Monday both Score Media and a representative of the NHL spoke at it. Both spoke of their rights as content providers on the internet, but it was Score Media who made the most compelling case.

They’re the little brother in the world of Canadian sports broadcasting. They don’t own the rights to anything major: they don’t show baseball, don’t show the NHL or curling. Their forte, for a long time, has been Canadian college sports (the CIS in particular), basketball and horse racing. And one of their main competitors, Rogers, is one of the biggest internet providers in Canada.

They would want protection from any kind of digital limitations that Rogers could, in theory, put on them – such a limit in bandwidth, for example. And they want protection against US media infringement into Canada – like from ESPN360.

It’s the same problem that radio and television have faced in the past. Because Canada is a nation that looks to the US for so much of our entertainment, it would all too easy to be swallowed up by US media. Thusly, there are minimum amounts of Canadian content that all radio and TV stations have to reach. It’s a tad socialist, yes, but it’s there to protect the “Canadian Identity”.

In the world of sports, this would translate to why we have TSN, which shows Canadian-based sports and programming, then just a feed of ESPN (or even ESPN Canada).

And the argument is that this should also extend online as well.

So online, the CTRC is looking into placing similar restrictions – that can’t just show the exact things that ESPN360 does, but that they should reflect Canadian broadcasting standards.

As they should. Canadian sports would all to easily be swallowed up by ESPN, who thanks to a major stake in TSN, would be able to have a virtual monopoly in online video. It would be all too easy for TSN shut out their rivals by exclusively showing marquee programming.

And there’s even the worst-case scenario, where Rogers could limit access to the site on their ISPs.

All Canadian sports fans are already being subjected to this squabbling nonsense with TSN2. The CRTC should step in now and set regulations for Canadian content and net neutrality before this issue comes to a head.

Written by M.

March 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm