The sports landscape is changing in Hamilton.
In the last few months we’ve lost the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs, relocated to St. John’s, although we are gaining an OHL incarnation of the team. We’ve also lost the Hamilton Red Wings of the Ontario Junior Hockey League as the franchise is being relocated to Eastern Ontario.
In the last several years we have lost even more teams, though many people may not know that they even existed. The city had a professional lacrosse team in the Hamilton Nationals, which underwent a one-year suspension of operations nearly two years ago. We also lost two soccer teams under the name Hamilton FC. One was a men’s team while the sibling team was a women’s team.
So while we’ve gained one team in recent memory we have lost far more.
And while the loss is hard to bear one thing has been changing in the world of sports as of late. At least, it feels that way. The media coverage of sports in Hamilton seems to be getting better.
I wrote a piece several years ago showing my frustration about the coverage, or lack there of, of sports in this city. The Hamilton Spectator and CHCH-TV, the two big players of major media in the city, seemed to mostly ignore sports. Especially the smaller junior teams. Games weren’t written about. There weren’t any highlights shown on the news.
To most of the general public, even those who are fans of sport, these teams didn’t exist. Hamilton has a baseball team? How many junior hockey teams are there in town? What’s Aussie Rules Football?
Frustrated with the coverage I decided that I would do my best to cover what I could, which led to the split of Hamilton Today to include Hamilton Today Sports. I started off going to as much as I could, and where I couldn’t attend myself I would write recaps of the games from box scores and stat sheets.
I would be damned if there would be no coverage.
At my peak I would be live-tweeting and writing game recaps for up to five hockey games a night. Those were some busy nights, I’ll tell you. And I did it for no other reason than that I wanted people to know about these teams. I wanted people to care about these teams and their players.
But it feels like something has changed.
Recently Hamilton News has been doing more coverage for the Hamilton Bengals. The Bengals! Junior B lacrosse is getting regular coverage in the Mountain News and on their website. A feature article from Scott Radley about the Cardinals baseball team and even a feature story on the Wildcats! The Hamilton Wildcats, of the Australian Football League of Ontario.
It’s tough to say whether or not this really signifies a change in how local sports are covered in the City of Hamilton, but it does give me some hope.