Monday, March 14, 2016

Op-Ed: NBLC Media Needs To Be Better

By Marty Thompson

As the fifth season of the National Basketball League of Canada comes to a close, many of those around the league are labeling it a banner year. “Decent” attendance numbers, club profitability, and marketable players have all contributed to an anniversary that many predicted wouldn't happen.

So why is nobody talking about this league yet? Where is the interest from those not connected to the NBLC or the clubs participating? Why haven’t we seen it yet? Because league and team officials continue to neglect the product that is presented to those outside of the arena.

Don’t get me wrong, things are a lot better than they used to be. We started NBLCNET nearly two years ago because it was so damn hard to follow this league. My colleagues and I wanted to create something people could turn to for info on the league in a time when, in most cases, you’d only know a game happened because a box score appeared in the depths of the league’s website. Nowadays, teams are posting game recaps to their websites, interacting with fans on social media, and also making some pretty respectable video content.

However, it’s not good enough. We still see teams completely neglect live stream systems, fail to update their websites for more than half a year (even leaving lorem ipsum on their homepage), and fail to update fans on crucial personnel changes within the team. How can that be acceptable? How can you neglect your fan base and, perhaps more importantly, people who want to get involved with this league, especially potential owners, players, agents, or basketball fans.

I understand that not everyone uses online mediums. That being said, the league has no other outlets of communication with their fan base. I’ve personally seen team owners bash news organizations on social media for not providing coverage of their team. What happens when reporters and editors in those organizations go to the team’s Twitter account and fail see a single post about the game that happened the night before? How about when they check the website and see a prominent team member’s name misspelled? Or even when the club spells their own team name incorrectly? The term ‘Mickey Mouse’ is probably kicked around the newsroom right before they dismiss the complaint.

No one will take you seriously if you don’t take the product they see seriously.

There are several case studies that show how sports organizations invested in their own media to raise the overall profile of the league or team. One of which is Major League Soccer (MLS). A league that had little-to-no media coverage through the early to mid-2000s literally decided to cover the teams themselves, paying “reporters” to write for each team. While that exact model wouldn’t necessarily work here, what’s stopping each team from appointing (perhaps employing) a public relations person who could operate in a similar manner?

Money, possibly. Everyone knows there isn’t much money kickin’ around the league at the moment. It has been the main reason why many things haven’t happened to this league yet.

That being said, NBLC leadership needs to invest in people who can bring this league to the next level. Interns and free labour (if you want to write for us, email me) have managed to do an admirable job over the past five years while higher-ups have remained oblivious, and sometimes ignorant, to how those outside of the arena see them.

If the National Basketball League of Canada wants to be seen as a serious league, it needs to look serious. It has built a strong foundation over the past five seasons, and it now needs to take the next step and build something on it. If it doesn’t act soon, these five years could all have been nothing.