Friday, April 11, 2014

HOUSTON MEDIA, WHY SHELL HOUSTON OPEN? - ANGELO LAWFORD


WHY GOLF?
Written by: Angelo Lawford
Date posted: 4/11/2014

You might have to bare with me, as I try to make this connection make sense. Some of you might find it to be a stretch and not necessarily see the connection or understand the point trying to be made. But I am coming from a good place.

You see, as a soccer fan, I envy golf for what it seems to be able to do as an international sports product. Golf is able to generate a rather consistent stream of media attention both nationally and locally, that soccer hasn't been able to consistently generate as an international sports product within the confines of our national and local medias. And I don't really understand why.

Golf isn't nearly the everyman sort of game or sport that soccer seemingly is and I struggle to wonder how or why the sport seems so relatable to so many, in comparison to soccer as true international and not dynamically domestic sports products, if that makes sense. I often wonder what golf did or what golf has that soccer hasn't yet done or doesn't have that makes the media be able to relate to golf and promote golf the way that it seems to do.

Both golf and soccer have strong European origins, but somehow, golf seems less foreign than soccer, from a media perspective anyway. I don't get how our national and local medias can connect to a Rory McIlroy, a Steve Elkington, or a Sergio Garcia, all of the PGA tour, but struggle to connect with a Steven Gerrard, a Frank Lampard, or a Cristiano Ronaldo, who are all renowned international soccer players. 

The thought comes simply because here locally in Houston, another Shell Houston Open has come and gone and I was intrigued by the local media resources that were allocated to this four-day event.

I get it. The Shell Houston Open is an annual middle-upper to full upper tier stop on the PGA tour and it is a solid showcase for the city. So a pretty extensive amount of  local media coverage really goes without saying, and understandably so.

But here is the thing. Did the local media resources allocated, match the local interest? Or more importantly to me, where was this stream of coverage for say, the international soccer friendly played here at Reliant Stadium in front of a sellout crowd, last May, that featured a match-up between the Mexican and Nigerian national teams? Or for the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup elimination matches that were played to sellout crowds at Reliant Stadium? 

I think the question that I have yet to really be given a clear answer to, is this, what science or data does the media use or acquire, to in turn determine what the public wants to consume?

Earlier last week, the United States Men's National Team (USMNT) hosted the Mexican national team in an international friendly played in Arizona. The two teams played to a rather entertaining 2-2 draw in what is generally regarded as one of the better team rivalries in the entire world of team sports.

The game also saw current Houston Dynamo captain, Brad Davis, play a fairly prominent role in the game for USMNT head coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, as Davis looks to make a late push to hopefully capture a spot on the upcoming USMNT World Cup roster come this summer in Brazil

What does this have to do with the Shell Houston Open or golf? Here it is. Locally, despite the media coverage given towards the Shell Houston Open, from an interest level, in this international market, is it a guarantee, that the Shell Houston Open generated more organic interest as a singular event than the international friendly between the USMNT and Mexico played last Tuesday? 

Considering where Houston sits on the map and for also not so very obvious reasons, my guess is locally, the international friendly resonated with enough of the local public, to at least require an allocated resource, to at the very least, have any eye on the game.
Which makes me ask this serious question. A digging down deep within the soul kind of question that I mean with the utmost sincerity and respect. Do the local program directors in THIS particular city (in understanding that the sports talk radio genre, is the backbone of all things media in this market) have any real obligation to the diversity of this city when it comes to how they allocate their media resources? Not just the diversity of its people, but also of interests.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think the coverage given to the Shell Houston Open was irresponsible per se. But to not allocate a local resource to an event the magnitude of the Mexico vs. USMNT friendly played in Arizona given the Houston Dynamo and regional connections or previous international soccer events held here locally, does seem a bit irresponsible, given what we know our local landscape to be. 

I thought when Houston (as a market) decided to prioritize local sports matters in comparison to national sports matters, I thought it could also be a gateway in relating to sports fans in a way most markets couldn't even fathom. Houston as a market when taking into account its people, can do things no other market can do. And I thought there would be an unprecedented connection to the local body of people. But I guess I was a bit na├»ve.

Anyhow, I am done ranting. I just hope at least some of you understand the point. I honestly and down deep in my bones, just believe that this market deserves something more and something better.

Angelo Lawford

HMW 
  

1 comment:

Steve said...

American games are played with hands, soccer isn't. Soccer is also too low scoring. As far as the local interest with the sell out crowds, that doesn't translate to high talk show interest. In other words, people who live here and consider soccer their favorite sport are either kids or non-English speaking adults. Those groups aren't listening to 610, 790, 1560, or 97.5.