Just wanted to give a thumb’s up to a couple of professional sports leagues.  I don’t normally cover these two sports, but they’ve both done something lately that I’ve noticed.  And with all of the un-professional things happening in the NBA, NFL and MLB, it’s nice to see some positive moves by the “other guys.”

NHL

The NHL is handling the Stanley Cup Playoffs a little differently this season.  They are broadcasting each and every game of each and every playoff game.  Normally pro hockey is only on TV on weekends, typically just one game on Saturday during the regular season. I’m not a huge hockey fan, and I don’t live in a town that has a pro hockey team, so that’s really the only games I see, if there isn’t anything else on. I usually watch the “winter classic” where two teams play in some outdoor stadium, that’s always fun.

Here in Portland we do have a junior hockey team, the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.  They are great fun to watch, and tickets are cheap, so I do go to the games often.  (It’s hard to remember that these are just 17 and 18 year-old kids when you are watching them!)

But since the playoffs began, I’ve been drawn to watching the games.  Normally during the playoffs, you’d only get to see certain games of certain series, but since every game of every series is broadcast, there’s a ton of hockey to see, and all of the teams to scope out.  And once you get into one game, you get into both the teams, and then you get into the whole series.  I’ve watched more hockey in the last 10 days than I’ve probably watched in my entire life!

So, a big thumb’s up to the NHL for making all of those games available.  Of course, it’s not like they’re doing it to be nice or to pay back fans.  Think about all of the advertising time it takes to fill all those games.  It is a business, after all.  Still, it’s a great move.

NASCAR

Along the same lines, I think NASCAR made a great move earlier this season to increase their fan base.  (’cause we all know, there aren’t nearly enough NASCAR fans in the country!)

Now, I’m not a NASCAR fan.  I’ve never gotten too excited about a bunch of cars running in circles around an oval track.  Nothing but a bunch of left turns. Of course, when I was a kid I wanted to be a race car driver; Mario Andretti was my idol (and A.J. Foyt, and if you remember him, you know how old I am!)  And like most kids, my brother and I always had race car tracks and Hot Wheels sets.  But as I got older, those “dreams” faded like so many others.

But NASCAR’s decision to broadcast a race in prime time was brilliant.  I found myself watching, and continuing to watch.  I’m sure the fact that one the cars smashed into the back of a jet-drying truck that produced a spectacular explosion and ensuing fire (and thankfully, no injuries!) may have been a leading cause of my continued interest.  But there I was, watching a sport I almost never watch.  And, I love all of the technology involved in racing now – all of the in-car cameras and communications between crew members.  It’s old-school and high tech at the same time. That’s cool!

So, congratulations to the NHL and NASCAR.  You’ve received the Caldelicious thumb’s up award for making new fans out of non-fans, while managing not to alienate your existing fans!