Nice Guys Finish Last — Only When the Mainstream Sports Media Gets Involved

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Riffing a bit off of Joe Cunningham’s excellent take on how traditional sports media is misjudging its audience’s appetite for more woke in lieu of actual sports, a recent article in the Seattle Times caught my attention. The author is of the firm opinion that the Kraken is missing out on connecting with the local fan base due to a lack of marketing individual players as, well, individuals.

Here at the sports desk located somewhere below decks of the Good Pirate Ship RedState, it’s duly noted there most likely isn’t anyone on the Kraken’s roster ranking alongside past and present Seattle sports luminaries such as Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Shawn Kemp, Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch, or Russell Wilson. Hockey players are by and large a rather bland bunch.

The NHL is not loaded with many barroom brawlers or social media stars. Listen to a hockey player being interviewed, and even the ones such as the Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid, who have earned the right to blow their own horn, alternate every other word between “we” and “team.” There are far fewer stories with hockey players and police blotters in the same paragraph than, say, football. It’s the nature of the beast, eh?

Since marketing a bunch of nice guys is apparently a challenge, you don’t see a lot of it in NHL markets — save for a team that has an all-world quality playmaker, in which case the player’s ability will be highlighted in an ad campaign. The player as a personality, not so much. For example, you’ll see plenty of this:

Feature stories on Trevor Zegras, not so much.

Referring back to the Seattle Times article, it should come as no surprise the MSM (Mainstream Sports Media) isn’t overflowing with features on hockey players. There’s seldom if ever ready-made clickbait. No bold political statements, no trash-talking, no throwing teammates under the bus. Leo Durocher was half-right. Nice guys don’t always finish last, but they are definitely in last place when it comes to MSM consideration.

The poster child for this phenomenon was, and most likely always will be, Tim Tebow. Were he to have been a Trump-trashin’ conservative-bashin’ pot-smokin’ wokester, Tebow would have been the toast of the MSM town. Instead, he made In-N-Out look like the proverbial den of iniquity and was mercilessly mocked for it.

Again referencing Joe’s story, one of the many areas in which the MSM is falling woefully short is neglecting the fact that nice guys can also be heroes. Not everyone flocks to the anti-hero. People relate to Davante Adams calling out former NFL player Zac Stacy for viciously abusing his partner. LeBron James going the see no evil/hear no evil/speak no evil route about China? No, people can’t relate.

Would stories about athletes who, when away from the rink or field or floor, go home to lavish love on their wife and kids be such a bad thing? No. Which is part of the reason why we’re covering sports here: to remind people good people are playing the games we love to watch. The MSM will do as it always does, namely looking for scandals and hot takes material. But for actual sports fans, it’d be good to know who the good guys and ladies are — so we know who deserves our cheers.