Monday, November 29, 2021

Frozen Four is as important as Final Four

March 27, 2001

I am a hockey fan. My veins run with ice and I get no better thrill than watching a good check or an amazing goal.

I collect a plethora of memorabilia from the sport – jerseys, pucks, trading cards, even Russian nesting dolls of the Red Wings.

I read anything I can about hockey – books and magazines, but mostly newspapers. In the Red Wings’ 1997-98 season, I saved every article the Detroit Free Press ran about the Wings in a giant, meticulously organized scrapbook. Last year, I saved every article The State News ran about the Spartan hockey team.

Because I aspire to be a hockey writer, I keep close track of the stories we run so I know what to expect when and if I get the position. And while there have been plenty of great stories this year, I can’t help but notice the hockey team is frequently brushed aside for other sports, usually basketball.

I’m not going to kid myself here. I know what basketball’s position is in this town. I know it’s what almost everyone wants to know about. But still, that’s no reason to push other teams to the second section or hide them on inside pages..

Now that I work at The State News, I am in the unique position of having at least some idea as to what is going to be in the paper before it is printed. Simply being in the newsroom and having two working ears affords me that privilege.

So, having the knowledge I do, I was excited to pick up the newspaper Monday morning because the buzz in the newsroom was that if the hockey and basketball teams both made it to the Final Four – which they did – the teams would be given equal coverage.

Much to my dismay, I picked up the paper to see a photo of the basketball team and a smaller photo of hockey. How is that equal coverage?

When it comes to hockey, I’m a vocal individual. When people in the newsroom asked why we had hockey on the front-room television and not basketball (which was on in the back room), I shouted “Because hockey is important, too!”

So I didn’t have much problem mentioning what I viewed as a pretty big snub toward the hockey team on the front page.

I was immediately confronted with the standpoint of editors and designers. Running two photos of the same size doesn’t work from a design standpoint, basketball is what readers want, hockey got a big photo on the sports front. I can see their point, but I’m not satisfied.

It was argued hockey has gotten a lot of coverage this year, more than in years past. I can’t exactly argue with that. But, I can tell you why I think The State News has given hockey more coverage.

It’s not because we’ve had a consistently strong and well-performing team; it’s not because we have the most successful coach in college hockey history who now has the CCHA Tournament trophy named after him; it’s not because The State News wanted to give hockey equal treatment.

The reason can be summed up in two words: Ryan Miller.

Don’t get me wrong, Miller deserves all the attention he’s gotten and more, but I have to ask, would the team be getting as much attention if we didn’t have a record-breaking goaltender? There’s more to this team than just the goalie, and the press should start acting like it by providing more consistent coverage.

It was also pointed out other newspapers provided less coverage of the hockey team than The State News. The Detroit Free Press gave basketball a dominant front page story plus six pages in the sports section, but teased a hockey story on the sports front by calling them “MSU’s other Final Four team.” The Detroit News gave hockey a story on the sports page below a giant photo of basketball. The Lansing State Journal put hockey on the front of the sports page – behind a special front about the basketball team.

Remember when you asked your mother if you could pierce your navel because your best friend did and she asked you if your best friend jumped off a cliff ? ? Exactly.

As the university’s newspaper, it is our job to cover what happens in, around and to the university. Why not set a precedent and start giving hockey more coverage? Why play follow the leader with all of the other papers?

As things stand, hockey’s treatment in the press is not likely to change, that is, unless people start saying something about it. The State News responds to readers, and unless there is call for more hockey coverage, it probably won’t happen.

As a noneditor employee, my thoughts on what gets covered and how has little pull. The only power I have as opinion writer is to write columns and try to elicit responses. And I can’t do that without you.

So, I have a humble request. If you like hockey and you would like to see more coverage and more prominent placement of that coverage about the team, tell us about it. If you think I’m wrong, you can tell me that, too. All I’m asking is for some dialogue about this issue – and it starts with you.

There are two great teams on this campus that are two wins away from national championships.

Let’s not forget one of them.

Michonne L. Omo, State News opinion writer, can be reached at omomicho@msu.edu.

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