Saturday, September 11, 2010

Division 2 men's hockey? The Internet's got that.

Last night, I was questioning whether the Internet was big enough.

Yes, I know that the Internet is awfully big, but sometimes I have the expectation that I should be able to find ANYTHING on the Internet.

Hotel in a small town outside of the booming metropolis of Wangen bei Olten, Switzerland? Found it.

Track listing for an album by my former neighbor's former band? Found it.

Information on left-handed smoke shifters? I found a video.

But sports coverage? Forget it.

OK, it wasn't like I was looking for Redskins-Cowboys pre-game coverage. My need was a little more esoteric.

When people think of Boise State, they think of the university's football team. Well, Boise State also has a men's hockey team, and a family friend (Jeremiah Padilla) is on the team. Their first game was Friday night against BYU, so I thought that I'd try to find some online coverage during the game.

Because I have been pre-programmed to do so, I immediately went to ESPN's web site and dug deep until I found its college hockey coverage. However, NCAA hockey does not cover all college hockey, which means that ESPN has no coverage of either Boise State or BYU.

It turns out that these schools are members of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), and that the BYU at Boise State game was listed on its website. However, the website did not offer any coverage during the game, and even now (almost 12 hours later) it hasn't posted any game results.

So I turned to Twitter, figuring that someone was sitting at the game and tweeting it. The best thing that I found, however, was a tweet from @SeanParker7 that was ABOUT the Boise State men's hockey team...and that was tweeted on September 3.

Eventually, someone from the team commented on Facebook that they had JUST signed a contract with Fast Hockey. The contract hadn't been signed in time to allow online broadcasting of the games against BYU (the two teams play again tonight), but they hope to broadcast future games.

So, who is Fast Hockey?

FASTHockey ( is the premier online destination to see live streaming video of amateur ice hockey games from across North America. The feature rich platform is frequented by scouts, recruiters, coaches, players, parents, and fans from around the world. Hockey fans can not only see live and archived games, but also build robust profiles, research and track teams, get updates on recent scores & news, and monitor college commitments.

Our company operates and evolves in accordance with our core values: Community, Connections, and Content. As the most comprehensive destination on the Web, FASTHockey delivers high value content to a diverse audience. We have revolutionized the way players, coaches, scouts, parents, and fans think about how hockey and technology come together.

Starry-eyed futurists, and even some people who are grounded in reality, may note that services such as Fast Hockey are the future of sports coverage. There are definitely tiers in sports, with the National Football League and National Basketball Association at the very top of the pyramid (in the U.S.), and sports such as cricket and Division 2 men's hockey way, way down toward the bottom. (OK, native American junior high football is lower.) Over-the-air television providers certainly can't provide all of this, and even cable and satellite providers can't provide all of this. Some sports are going to be forced to offer their coverage on the Internet, just because no other outlet is available. And as this happens, some of the premier sports may end up complaining that because of money, their coverage is ONLY available on television and radio.

P.S. As long as we're talking about NCAA and ACHA, this comment, found in a Penn State thread, explains why some teams are in the ACHA and not in the NCAA.

There are three obstacles to becoming a varsity team: 1) an appropriate rink, 2) money, and 3) Title IX.

The current rink does not have the amenities (locker rooms, etc.) and seating to support an NCAA DI team. The money needed is not what you think. With only 18 scholarships (NCAA maximum) their cost is nowhere near $1.5M but the total cost to run a nationally competitive program is substantial. In my opinion a men's team could break even with operating costs if they had a reasonable size area. My basis forthis is that PSU students are from hockey-rich areas (Pittsburgh, Philly, NJ with NHL teams, Harrisburg/Hershey, Wilkes Barre/Scranton, Philly, Johnstown with minor league hockey) and would support an NCAA program. The final item is Title IX, gender equity. This would require Penn State to add a new women's NCAA team. There is no team they could add, including a women's hockey team (it is currently a team sport) that would not lose money. So, the picture is complicated for upgrading hockey.
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