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Friday, June 22, 2007

Event Equality for Big Ten Network: Good Idea or Just PC?

On a media teleconference yesterday outlining the progress of the Big 10 Network, Commissioner Jim Delany announced that the Big Ten Network will become the first national network to commit to "event equality" for men's and women's sports on all network-controlled media within the first three years of launch. Basically, this means the network will broadcast an equal number of men's and women's events by the targeted date.

Politically correct? You bet. Good for sports fans? Nope.

The fact of the matter is - in general - most men are bigger sports fans than most women. Are there exceptions? Absolutely. Are there women who are not only bigger fans than most men and know more about sports? Absolutely.

But they are in the minority. And most men - and even most women who are sports fans - don't care about the sports that will be shown in order to have this "event equality" on the Big 10 Network.

Look, when the women's softball team made their run at the NCAA title a few years ago, I not only watched but was glued to the set. In fact, I'll watch any U-M team playing for a title. Hell, if we had a women's hopscotch team and they were in the NCAA tournament, I'm setting my TiVo.

But that doesn't mean there is "watch equality" that justifies "event equality" for the Big 10 Network.

Hey, is there an important women's basketball game being played? Put it on! Is some female tennis player in the conference shooting for some record? Air the damn thing! But for the Big 10 Network to arbitrarily say that they're going to put on an equal number of men's and women's sports is silly. It's a PC solution that ignores reality. Which is:

Men and women aren't equal in their lust for sports. And, for those of each gender that are equally passionate about sports, the agreement comes in the college sports they watch more regularly - and those happen to be sports played by men.

Suppose the BTN proposed that they were going to have "event equality" of a different sort: instead of it being based on gender, they said that there had to be "event equality" between college football and men's basketball (the two most popular collegiate sports) on one side and all other collegiate sports, male and female, on the other. Folks would laugh and say, "How silly." Why? Because those other sports aren't as popular. The fan bases aren't equal.

Or what if we were talking about something called the Big 10 College Basketball Network and they said they were going to show a 50/50 split of men's and women's college basketball games. Would that make sense? Of course not. More sports fans - male and female - follow men's college basketball. It's not sexist, it's just a fact.

Look, I personally don't care about men's gymnastics or women's gymnastics. I, along with most people, don't follow the sport, male or female. It's not about gender, it's about the sports people watch.

Now, I'm sure those that disagree with me are going to not only disagree strongly but, as is the way "debate" occurs in this day and age when someone offers a differing viewpoint, probably call me names. C'est la vie...in 21st century America.

Then again, maybe I'm preaching to the choir. Because while we have some fantastic, smart, female sports nuts who regularly read the MZone, the overwhelming majority of our readers are male.

What do you think of the Big Ten Network's "Event Equality?"
Great idea!
PC police run amok
pollcode.com free polls


And leave your thoughts in the comments section. Would love to know what people think on this one.

(Pic HT: LaughNet)

30 comments:

TitleIX said...

I'm confused. The photos you posted would argue FOR televising female sports....

Here's a question for the PC-haters: if your daughter played organized sports would you want her to have equipment, playing fields, court time, ice time, pool availability just like the boys? Or would you tell her that most people ( ie men )don't like girls' sports anyway so don't be a baby about crappy facilities, no uniforms, and no fan support?

Actually, not televising women's sports would save everyone a whole bunch of trouble....little girls wouldn't have the opportunity to see strong female role models whom they wanted to emulate. They wouldn't be interested in learning the fabulous lessons that sports provides regarding teamwork, effort, success, hardship, committment, coming up short but trying again none-the-less.

Yep, providing a wider venue for girlie sports is a stupid idea. We wouldn't have all this attention on soccer if those darned girls didn't win the world cup...
Ok, back to the kitchen with me. ;-)

TitleIX said...

Ok, MULLIGAN....

Truthfully, I don't think it's about being PC but really about programming. ESPN did the same thing when it started---NASCAR races around the clock. (and LOOK what happened!)
No way a women's event will pre-empt a men's event. But they've got to fill the air time. It actually is a great programming and marketing idea. Female sports viewers are an untapped (pardon the entendre) market and if you can get soccer moms and their kids watching college athletics...well, you do the math.

One could argue that ALL non-revenue sports need the exposure to increase revenue for the teams. Although it is strange to me that Men's LAX is now televised by ESPN. I'm sure a salacious rape case had nothing to do with it? right!?

So, it's unfortunate that this tactic by the Big Ten Network is seen by some thru the warped lens of PC-hating. No one will make you sit in front of the TV to watch Women's Volleyball, or Women's Swimming and Diving, or Women's Crew. Hell, Comcast may not even put the dang network on so the discussion may be moot.

god of the whoppers said...

Not completely related, but seems important enough
Big Ten, Comcast battle over new network's costs

Out of Conference said...

Without airing 12 hours of infomercials (which I bet they will have to anyway) and 8 hours of history of the Big 10-type shows (where are they now, old Mich-OSU games, etc.), I don't see how they will be able to not air women's sporting events just to come up with programming each day.
T9 is right - while I voted that this is PC run amok, the facts are the BTN will need women viewership, and Big 10 schools could certainly do worse than try to lure better women atrhletes and students. Now if they could carry a show that stresses that ladies wearing sweats to football games are a definite NO-NO, we'd be better off!

Blue (and White) Fan said...

You make great point T9. However, women have the Lifetime and Oxygen networks. Yet I don't see them making any efforts to broadcast sporting events. Maybe that's not their format so to speak. My feeling though is if women's sports were profitable they would find a way to broadcast them. Just like stations like TNT broadcasts NASCAR. I think that station also airs NBA games.

Hey, I am all in favor of equality. But this is a PC move, hands down.

Blue (and White) Fan said...

Off Topic -

Even though this is a Michigan site I read it often. I must admit this is the funniest blog I have ever seen! You guys always make me laugh.

And I promise you this. Penn State WILL beat Michigan again. Notice I didn't what century that would be, but it will happen.

Thanks again!

25 said...

The Big ten is just trying to look proactive because in all actuality they will have to show women's sports just to fill programing. The major networks already have contracts to broadcast the college football and men's basketball games so what else is there in the way of men sports to show besides baseball.

25 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MGoBlue93 said...

I'm sure a salacious rape case had nothing to do with it? right!?

T9... don't you think it's a bit disingenuous to start your rant out with "Here's a question for the PC-haters" and then use a incident where rumor and innuendo ruled the day and the prosecuting attorney got himself disbarred?

Quite frankly, I have no opinion one way or another regarding the telecast of women's sports... but it appears that you call people out for being PC and you make a PC comment yourself.

BTW, I coach girls soccer; your more cogent points are not lost on this poster.

GO BLUE!

CrimeNotes said...

I rarely (okay, never) watch women's sports but I don't think this is a PC move. This network is going to be desperate for content. They'll need to broadcast a lot of women's sports in order to fill dead air. My guess is that they're trying to make it sound like a programming choice and not what it is: filler. This channel will feature second-tier games in major sports and a bunch of junk nobody cares about.

Devil said...

We're talking about Jim Delaney, so, definitionally, this is about the money. As others have noted, this network will be crying out for content. If they can produce women's games on the cheap and try to build an audience for women's sports (i.e., turn them into less of a net revenue drain on ADs) and meanwhile claim to be good people for doing so, it's worth a shot.

BaggyPantsDevil said...

I’m going to go with “great idea” if only for the prurient interest angle demonstrated so well by the pictures accompanying this post. As a heterosexual male, if I have to watch a sport I otherwise have no interest in, I’d rather it be played by fit, young women.

I think TitleIX nails it and this is a case of the network trying to kill two birds with one stone. Since they’ve got to find some way to fill all that air time, why not sound enlightened by proclaiming themselves the first network ever committed to equal time for women’s sports. Hopefully, the most attractive games in any sport will be on a more available networks.

My biggest worry with the Big Ten Network isn’t that the Michigan-Ohio State game won’t be shown in lieu of women’s synchronized swimming but that a game like Michigan-Wisconsin will be shown on the BTN, which--since I live in the heart of ACC basketball country--I won’t ever get, instead of ESPN or ESPN2, both of which I do get. I can see the BTN--and the chance that it won’t be available in many parts of the country--actually decreasing the number of Michigan football games available to fans outside of the state of Michigan.

As far as I’m concerned, the less Michigan football games shown on the BTN the better. Last season, in spite of living in a desert wasteland that’s kind of, sort of PAC-10 country--yeah, I move around a lot--I was able to watch nine out of thirteen Michigan football games on NBC, ABC, or ESPN. To me, that isn’t bad and if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. I don’t want to see every Michigan game except those against Notre Dame and Ohio State banished to a cable network that is not even available to me.

harry hasselhoff said...

So a network that already seems destined to fail given it will not be carried by the country's largest cable operator and will probably be a pay channel on most others is now further sinking itself by pledging to broadcast not the most popular sports, but the sports that suit the political motivations of the Big Ten powers-that-be????

Idiots.

Yost said...

T9,

Was hoping you'd offer comments and your POV on this subject due to your blogger handle.

While we're on opposite sides here, as stated in the original post, this isn't about giving women second-hand gear for their sports. Wasn't advocating that.

Most importantly, this also wasn't an either or thing as stated in your first comment -- as in televising half women's sports on the BTN or none at all. Again, wasn't advocating that, either.

My issue is with arbitrarily mandating that there will be an even split of male/female sports. That, imho, is silly.

As so many people have said, they're going to be starved - especially outside of football/b.ball season for content. There is - and should be - plenty of air time for ALL the non-rev sports, male and female.

Finally, yeah, you're right about the pic. But when I was searching for something to put up w/ the post, that was just too good to pass up even if it muddles the point.

CrimeNotes said...

The link from God of Whoppers is great -- it puts into relief the hubris and retardedness of Jim Delaney and this entire dumb idea.

Highlights:

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said cable TV giant Comcast should apologize for remarks that he claimed were "intended to denigrate institutions and teams" in his conference.

And the company responded emphatically: Forget it.

***

The conference and Comcast are at odds over the price of the new Big Ten Network and whether it should be offered on basic cable. And they're also feuding over the wording of a press release in which Comcast said the Big Ten network will show "second and third-tier sporting events," called it "a niche sports channel" and added: "Indiana basketball fans don't want to watch Iowa volleyball, but the Big Ten wants everyone to pay for their new network."

***

"In the Midwest, when you're talking about a women's sports team, you talk about them with respect," Delany said. "They're not second tier. ..."

***

Delany, a Comcast subscriber, remains hopeful a deal can be reached.

"But if I read again about the second-rate, second-tier women's volleyball team from Iowa as the centerpiece of our programming, I'm going to say the same thing I'm saying now," Delany said. "That is, I think it's inappropriate."


Shades of Fox Sports Detroit precuror PASS, only without the excitement of Live from Ladbroke DRC.

John said...

in the eyes of the NCAA, aren't all college sports created equal? shouldn't the big X(+1) reflect that? I hear your argument yost, but this is the same body that uses the term "student athletes." if the network broadcast grabbed all the events that would get the most viewers (i.e. most big X football games) and had football analysis shows, classic games, etc., you'd be making a post on how the big X is making even more money off the football players.

For a league and sanctioning body that prides itself about being about "student athletes" and their accomplishments, I think this move is the best. You've seen the commercial: "hundreds of student athletes are going professional in something other than sports." So what if you lose money on broadcasting womens field hockey, the NCAA and big X is about providing a forum for these sports. Its not necessarily being PC, its not being hypocritical.

Yost said...

John,

If you think this network is anything but a money making venture, you're sadly mistaken. It's not about showcasing the downtrodden "student athlete" to the world. If it was, Jim Delany would be giving it to Comcast for free and not locked in a bitter dispute over pricing.

It's about putting on things people want to watch. People - especially if the BTN is not on basic cable - who will be charged. And if they don't watch, it fails.

The Big 10 provides the sports - equally - for men and women, to participate in. Now they're supposed to provide a "forum" on TV as well? Even if nobody watches? It's one thing to provide equal opportunities for men and women to play sports. It's another to also try to mandate to the viewer they have to watch in equal doses as well, even if they have no interest.

Brad Coe said...

Here is my point. If you want Big 10 Network to last, they have to make their money. If they are not getting enough viewers, then the network will not last long. So I think the bigger games and sports should have priority over other events so the viewer ratings are much higher. To keep the viewer ratings high, it would most likey be male sports and also the dominating sports such as football and baketball that would be showing. Those are facts that those sports are viewed the most. It is also fact that it is the male sports that are viewed more often than female sports. I see it both ways just as the article said. Politicaly its correct. To sport viewers it stinks. Sorry I rather watch Football over soccer, or tennis. I would also rather watch male basketball over female basketball. Im not sexest either, I just find the games more interesting and I think the facts show that most people agree. Now if I was the owner of the Big 10 Network station, my priorities would be how to make the channel successful and how to bring in the money to be able to help out all big 10 teams to be able to support them. In my view I would be trying to capture as many viewers as possible. That isn't going to happen if the network is showing tennis while another network is showing NCAA basketball championships. That is my view and im sticking to it.

John said...

yost,

i agree its a business and they want to make money, but you'll never here delay say that. broadcasting a disproportionate amount of fball and bball would do everything but validate what college critics have been saying for years, its about the $$$. Imagine what the WWL would say. of course, they are as hypocritical (using OSU and UM games to whore their ESPNU network).

I'm just saying, if you go as far as making ads and coming down hard on players who get some benefits, protecting the sanctity of the "student athlete," isn't this the move you have to make with your network?

we know there is a unspoken hierarchy among college sports, are you expecting the big X to acknowledge it by how they program their network?

zen wizard said...

I am thinking that we should take activities which are truly a sport--like map folding, Macy's sale shopping cart navigation, cake decoration, and Bedazzler T-shirt creation--that women tend to be more proficient at, and make them into sports, then broadcast the women's events for equal time.

This would boost women's collective self-esteem, as some misguided man would try to compete, in drag, in the Women's Division of, say, "Competitive Speed Bedazzling"--and summarily get his ass kicked. Especially when he models his resultant baby doll Bedazzler shirt that says, "Foxey Lady" and the letters are all uneven.

Erik said...

I like it. I'd much rather watch real actual sports (even if it's women's tennis or something) than watch some lame-ass bullshit "insider" program on some team or another in which I want to punch the host in the throat for giving me such profoundly worthless insight.

Consider the sad crap that regional FSN's have to do, and then make that into half of an entire network. It doesn't sound like much fun to me.

TitleIX said...

mgoblue93--
What I meant is that the 'attractiveness' of a salacious rape case: ie, rich white Duke men accused of raping black female strippers is what got LAX on the nation's radar screen. Obviously there was no rape and Nifong completely abused his authority etc etc etc.
Guilty or innocent, the publicity around the whole thing is what now has LAX on ESPN in my humble opinion. Otherwise, who would be watching???
It's the great american redemption story.....

Ram61 said...

Ive been watching ESPN for a while, and way before the Duke case I remember them having Lacrosse games on ESPN and ESPN2. The rape case gave it some publicity yeah, and probably a few extra viewers for 10 minutes or so, but people arent going to become Lacrosse fans just because of the case. For you to say that the only reason Lacrosse is on ESPN is because of this Duke case is moronic. I never watched lacrosse in my life, but i know teams like Syracuse and Duke because ESPN has advertised it before. Get your shit straight before talking.

TitleIX said...

ram61---

I'll be sure to straighten out my moronic shit before I engage in an enlightened public discussion with MZone regulars.
Thanks for the heads up.

lane said...

most everyone's hit the nail - hard - on the head.

too much air time - not nearly enough programing to justify itself to these big cable companies for the $ they're asking for - great ploy to pass it off as 'PC'.

hey, i've got directv and it's bundled with its basic service - i'll flip by it to see what's on.

lljbone4 said...

this is ridiculous. i've only ran across no more than 10 girls in my life that absolutely LOVE to sit down and watch ANY type of game. the count for guys that i've met is countless. this shouldnt be an argument and that's it.

TitleIX said...

lljbone4---

you should get out more and meet some real women....

when I was a little girl, my MOTHER and I watched Wide World of Sports religiously. I'm a huge Muhammed Ali fan as a result. In addition, we were ALL about the Steelers in the 70s. In fact, I wanted to be Lynn Swann when I grew up. Dad would come into the TV room looking all morose wondering, "what's for dinner?" and my mom would say, "I don't know, we are watching the game, what are you making???"

Girls RULE! :-)

Out of Conference said...

Ram61 - wtf dude?
T9 is on the mark. The Duke rape case put men's LAX in the spotlight. Sure, the women's LAX postseason always made ESPN year and after year, and I remember always seeing Duke, UNC, 'Cuse, etc always in the championship games, but men's college LAX didn't get much airtime- maybe the Mothership carried the men's championship game, but I seemed to recall it being relegated to the Deuce. They never carried men's playoff matches that I recall, just the championship game. To say that the Duke rape case didn't bring the men's sport to people's minds everywhere is simply not correct.

Yost said...

ram,

Easy, tiger. Differences of opinions are not only fine, but what make a good comments section interesting. No need to get ugly.

shawn said...

As a fan I'm tired of getting screwed.
It started with the NFL network then ESPNU. Why should we have to pay extra for games that were previously on over-the-air free stations?

I think as a fanbase we should voice our concerns.

A link to the Big Ten Network is listed below.

http://www.bigtennetwork.com/ man...ticleSource=420