Richard Nelson

Toronto looking down on the Calgary Stampede?

In culture, professional cycling on 2004 July 9 Friday at 19:41:00

Chris Zelkovich’s column on sport media in The Toronto Star is one of my regular reads, online or off, so I was a bit disappointed in what I took to be a tone of condescension in today’s column, particularly with respect to the Calgary Stampede.

I say this with no western prickliness – I’ve lived all my life in the Golden Horseshoe, and I have no knowledge of or interest in rodeo sports – but I sensed a kind of disdain for the event. Perhaps I was wrong.

He also committed an error of fact: pro cycling shorts are not made of neoprene (thank God!), but of various lightweight stretchy fabrics, such as Lycra.

To the substance of the column, I’ve had the sense that since the big rearrangement of cable-channel ownership the Outdoor Life Network has been treated as the Sports Network’s poor cousin. And even the relaunch Zelkovich writes of lacks coherence, as cycling (a sport I do follow) and rodeo have zero in common, including (I would think) audiences. If the magazine market is any indicator there are two quite distinct “outdoor” markets: folks who read Outside or Explore, who are interested in trekking and endurance sports; and those who read fishing and hunting magazines. I wonder if a network that tries to combine those would be successful. (This isn’t to say that someone can’t be interested in both; but the markets are not natural or obvious overlaps.)

The American OLN network carries all three of cycling’s Grand Tours (i.e., of Italy in the spring, France in the summer, and Spain in the fall) and has allegedly done well with it even though only the Tour de France features Lance Armstrong.

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