By Rob Ficiur
In the old days (like ten years ago) a pod was a group of dolphins. In those old days sports fans could learn more about their team by going to websites, blogs and email lists to get the latest on their team. In 2004 the word Podcast was invented by BBC journalist Ben Hamersley as a broadcast audio format people could listen to on their portable devices. By 2005 Apple had updated its I-tune program so people did not need a special device to down load pod casts. From these small beginnings a decade ago podcasts have become the latest way for sports fans to indulge deeper into their chosen sport.
The following are my observations on the pros and cons of sports podcasts:
1. Great – You can get in depth information on your team. Podcasts are designed for a specific target audience. From my favorite NHL podcast I have come to know the current progress of each of my team’s best players and their prospects. A decade ago I generally knew who my team’s top prospects were; now through podcasts I know in detail the status of all NHL players plus half of the minor league players on my team.
2. Not so great – Are there other teams besides mine? The deeper I go in learning about my team, its prospects, its minor league draft picks – the less I know about the other teams in the sport. From podcasts alone there is too much information out there for one fan to digest. Since I can invest all my spare hours focusing on my team, I can become quite unaware of other teams.
The last few seasons I have monitored the Toronto Blue Jays (daily) and their top minor league team the Buffalo Bisons (weekly). When it was time to call up a minor league player, I knew enough about how the Bison players were doing that I had a pretty accurate guess who would be called up. Knowing all this about the Blue Jays organization left me knowing very little about the rest of the 29 teams. In the old days I would have known the main starters for each team, now I am so focussed on my team there is no time for other teams.
3. More podcasts and more coming – No matter what the topic there is a glut of information out there. The Calgary Flames have the following fan organized pod casts Fireside chat; Flames from 80 feet; Match sticks and Gasoline; Daily Faceoff; Fireside Chat and more. From your favorite team you can pick and choose which pod casts you want to follow. In the old days blogs and websites were organized my media outlets – now fans can put out information and opinions to their target audiences. The more technology advances the easier it will be for the average person to become a podcaster journalist.
4. Is that accurate? – Is the information on pod casts reliable? In theory all information in sports casts and newspapers is verified before it is published. Podcasts come without footnotes. People can express their personal opinions as facts without having to document or back up their information. The simple rule of thumb is don’t believe everything you hear (or read). When my favorite post cast interviewed an astrologist this week, I listened to part of it just to see how astrology explained why most of the NHL defensemen are born in January. The skeptic in me did not believe the information. No big deal to me, just delete and listen to something else.
5. Podcasts make time fly – When I cut the grass or shovel the snow time goes much quicker when I am listening to a podcast. Because I chose what I am listening to the topic is what I want; and my mind is kept busy doing those mundane tasks that usually seemed to drag on.
6. Price is right – Every podcast I listen to is free. In can get up to date information on whatever topic I want at no cost. If I find I don’t like a certain podcast (or at least an episode of it) then I can delete it without worrying I wasted my subscription money on something.
7. Pod Casts subscriptions save time – I currently subscribe to about six podcasts. When a new episode comes out it goes directly to my pod catcher. If I had look up my podcast every week, I would forget. In the old days emails came to us – now the podcasts come to me ready to listen to.
8. More episodes Shorter Pod casts (please) – In the last year I have cancelled my subscription to several sports podcasts because the individual podcasts were about an hour long. I don’t always have an hour’s time to listen to an entire podcast. I can leave it and come back later, but somehow I lose my place on the podcast. I would prefer to have three twenty minute podcasts per week to having one hour long podcast.
9. Most Popular sports podcasts are: I ran a Google search to identify the top three sports podcasts they are: Pardon My Take; The Bill Simmons Podcast; and Sports Gambling Radio. I have never heard of any of these. The only ones in the top ten I am vaguely familiar with are Pardon The Interruption (#5), Mike & Mike (#13) and Jim Rome’s Daily Jungle (#35). Every sports fan wants to hear his own thing.
Podcasts allow us to find trivia nuggets of interest to you. The History of Hockey podcast I found last month has had several podcasts about hockey prior to the start of the NHL. The Origin of Hockey episode allows fans to see hockey from a different point of view: “From Iran, to Scotland, to North America, and…Bermuda? We’ll travel the globe, some places by accident, and find out more on the evolution of our game.” How can Bermuda and Iran be part of hockey history? I guess I need to listen to the podcast to find out.