There was a time when I would tell anyone who would listen that soccer would soon eclipse every major sport in this country â€” including hockey.
I would point to the slow demise of baseball in Toronto, the youth participation numbers across Canada outstripping any other sport and the rise of professional franchises in cities like Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto as reasons why the next generation in Canada would be an Adidas Generation.
It was often an argument that was one part smart-ass, one part self-delusion and two parts self-preservation (there aren’t a lot of national soccer columns in this country).
And after a few pints at the pub I’ll still tell any Blue Jays-cap wearing nutbar to enjoy the team while he can â€” I have to be honest about a few things.
One â€” domestic soccer here just doesn’t draw traditional TV ratings. Whether it is for the national team or one of the Whitecaps, Impact or TFC, it just does not have the same numbers pull as the established sports.
Two â€” the likes of TSN will continue to ignore the sport as nothing but a niche market until they figure out how to generate revenue from it.
If you look at the coverage SportsCentre provides on any given night, it is always reflective of its own programming. TSN is heavily involved in NHL and CFL coverage and those are the sports that are given priority on any given night.
When it became obvious that no networks were going to broadcast Canada’s game last night, I jokingly posted an ad on Craigslist Jamaica asking anyone with a camera and Internet access to broadcast the game for $100.
Needless to say, I didn’t get any response from the Jamaicans, but the flood of Canadians who wrote me to ask if I had any luck certainly were interested.
Canadian fans famously crashed pockets of the Macedonian Internet last year when they latched on to several web streams broadcasting a Canadian friendly.
While the rating numbers aren’t big enough for the major networks to justify a broadcast, there is a market for games like these.
Toronto FC has recognized this in the past and as a thank you of sorts to their fans broadcast pre-season games through their website.
The Canadian Soccer Association could easily do the same. It may not have resources to self-broadcast but with a growing number of private companies like SSN (which broadcasts another niche market â€” CIS sports) out there, there is no reason now for games like these to go unseen any longer.