Friday, March 07, 2014

Why Did UNO Hockey Get More Coverage on Minneapolis TV Instead of Omaha This Week?

One of the more frustrating things for UNO hockey fans to deal with is the dearth of coverage in the local media. I certainly understand where it starts; Nebraska football is clearly the topic that drives the conversation in sports locally. This winter, add in Creighton basketball's dream season and Nebrasketball's meteoric rise into contention for an NCAA tournament bid (despite being picked to finish dead last in the Big Ten), and you have to expect those stories to get plenty of coverage. And deservedly so.

This isn't so much about this season; it's always been a problem, even in those seasons when Creighton and Nebraska were NIT-quality teams at best. UNO hockey is frequently seen as an afterthought by many in the local media; a niche sport barely worth mentioning. Of course, that "niche" sport frequently has been known to outdraw the more established sports at times, so that's not a valid excuse. But it's a perception, and perceptions become reality, whether valid or not.

So UNO hockey fans sometimes have to be happy to get the coverage they get.  UNO's sweep of Colorado College to move to just one game out of first place in the NCHC got page five treatment in Sunday's World-Herald this week. Fine. Nebraska's victory over Northwestern was front-page worthy. So was Creighton's collapse at Xavier.  Same song, different verse.

But this week, my acceptance of the status quo was shaken up with the following tweet:

WCCO-TV in Minneapolis sent a crew to Omaha to learn why four of Minnesota's top ten high school hockey players have committed to UNO.  It's a great feature on UNO hockey, focusing on the pedigree of Dean Blais' coaching staff and the fact that UNO ranks fourth nationally in college hockey attendance.

Only one of the 10 Mr. Hockey finalists is staying in state at St. Cloud State.
So why can’t Minnesota schools get them to stay?
“Dean Blais isn’t here in Minnesota. I think if Dean Blais was in any one of those institutions that might make them an instant player for some of those kids,” said Ken Pauly.
As I watch the interviews with Eden Prarie's Luc Snuggerud and Steve Spinner, the little voice in the back of my mind keeps reminding me that this story is on a MINNEAPOLIS TV STATION WEB SITE.  They sent a camera crew to Omaha.  They sat down for interviews with UNO coaches and players.
Over four minutes of coverage of UNO hockey.  On a friggin' Minneapolis television station.  Not an Omaha television station or the Omaha World-Herald.

How does this happen?  I suspect that if you checked  the four local television stations, their combined coverage of UNO hockey the last week wouldn't add up to four minutes, and almost all of that would have been highlights from the previous weekend.

I understand the focus on Nebrasketball and Creighton this week. It's a story that needs to be covered. But at the same time, Minneapolis television just made it crystal clear that the Omaha media is neglecting stories right underneath their own nose.

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