With the Blazers’ 11-game winning streak now over, I can start to properly assess the situation. Tied for the longest streak of the season, the whole experience helped to illuminate firsthand several realities of the NBA. Namely, that the media bias against small markets is absolutely a real thing.
As the wins piled up, I became more and more shocked at the treatment the Blazers received. Sure there were some articles about their success (certainly more than normal), but they felt more like they were done out of duty than any real interest.
I can only imagine the sheer volume of attention that would be heaped on a “large-market” team going on a similar win streak, for example the Knicks, Lakers, or Bulls (not coincidentally, all of these teams’ cities have their own section on ESPN). Instead, it was two of the most under-the-radar markets, Portland and San Antonio, who were marching along to matching 11-game win streaks.
What I’m saying is nothing new or earth-shattering, though – large markets are large markets because they contain a huge amount of people. This, in turn, immediately turns any potential news story that affects a big city into a hugely marketable news story, as more people will be inherently interested and provide their ever valuable page views.
Again, this has been going on for a while. But, I was interested in my own reaction, as a fan of a now suddenly and hugely relevant team. I was definitely becoming annoyed by what was going on. Teams that had far worse records were receiving far more attention than the Blazers were, and as someone who cares about my team, it just didn’t seem fair.
I think I can now begin to appreciate what the Spurs go through year in and year out. I can’t compare the Blazers to the Spurs, because they have been relevant for so long and won it all, but the under-the-media-radar comparison is certainly apt. That team has been relevant for almost a decade and a half now, but when their losing streak ended, they got one line on the ESPN home page. For the record, the Blazers received two words (“Blazers, too”).
Once I got past the annoyance and a little bit of bitterness, I realized something else: on the whole, I think I like the Blazers being a lower-key team. It honestly seems like an advantage – you may not necessarily be at the forefront of your opponents’ minds, you don’t have suffocating media members constantly surrounding you, and expectations are kept in check.
This last one, in particular, is key. When there is less chatter about a team, it is much harder for external sources to influence a team’s expectations, or perhaps just as importantly, fans’ expectations. Everything is easier to keep in check, since there aren’t as many reporters/writers looking to dig up the next juicy scandal or get the latest scoop by whatever means necessary.
When I really ponder this concept, I think the Blazers are better off being able to stay mostly out of the spotlight. The fans who really matter to the team, the local fans, will always keep track on their own. So what if the Blazers don’t seem to see the light of day on ESPN or other major news sites? That lack of attention doesn’t negatively affect the team or its fans, and on the contrary is probably a huge help.
It’s easy to grow frustrated or jaded by the blatant bias, but I think I now enjoy it. The Blazers will always keep doing their own thing, and right now that’s winning.
Tags: Portland Trail Blazers