The Thought Refuse

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The Buffalo Bills Winning And Losing National Attention

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The Buffalo Bills are sporting a 3-0 record for the first time since 1992 and the glory years of four consecutive trips to the Super Bowl.  This is a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 1999.  It’s been eight long, heartbreaking seasons since the Bills approached a semblance of success in the league.  While there has been a couple seasons in which the Bills mathematically chased a playoff spot late into the year, the team never qualified as a contender and instead bore the “not quite good enough” label.

The city of Buffalo lives and dies with it’s sports teams in both good and bad times.  That hasn’t changed alongside the fortunes of our beloved football team.  What has changed is the treatment by the national media towards the Bills.  The team is a regular topic of discussion on national shows such as ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, NFL Live, and Around the Horn.  Trent Edwards and Donte Whittner have been guests on Jim Rome’s nationally syndicated radio show in the last several weeks.

“Winning isn’t everything.  It’s the only thing,” is a famous sports cliche attributed to Henry Russell Sanders.  Not only does it apply to sports, it applies to national media attention for low profile sports organizations.  It applies perfectly to the Buffalo Bills.

There are three things that drive sports media attention – winning, star power, and controversy.  Take the current state of the NFL and the corresponding media attention.  Not a day passes where reports surrounding the supposed near imminent firing of Oakland Raider head coach Lane Kiffin aren’t piped through the new wires.  The New York Jets and Brett Farve are still a staple of sports media discussion despite their poor onfield performance.  And then there’s the Buffalo Bills making headlines for emerging as an early surprise contender.

Winning and controversy are the Bills only two tickets to gaining media focus.  Both are fleeting.  Winning eventually turns into losing, and controversy always resolves itself.  Star power is the only sure fire way to stay in the national spotlight.  The New York Yankess, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Knicks share in unrivaled levels of star power.  And this doesn’t simply apply to star players.  While it certainly adds to the majesty of a franchise, it’s a combination of tradition, potential, and impact.

Achieving the necessary criteria boils down to a basic, tangible value – revenue power.  Sports franchises with the ability to generate sustained levels of revenue other organizations cannot compete with will, in time, become a part of the national consciousness.  Winning is a secondary concern, albeit not an ineffectual one.  High profile splashes in free agency and coaching draws create a constant illusion of movement.  The New York Knicks have been one of the worst franchises in the NBA in terms of winning, but because they are always an active player for free agents and tag well known coaches like Isiah Thomas they remain a topic of discussion in the media.

Controversy being something organizations try to avoid at all costs i.e. the Marshawn Lynch hit and run incident over the summer.  This is where Buffalo is forever doomed to fail in being a constant media starlet.  It’s such a depressed, small economic market it can’t afford impact free agents or notable coaches.

Being an avid Buffalo sports fan, the current fawning over the Bills by the national media strokes that team ego every fan carries around.  I’ll keep my chest thrust forward, but I know once the Buffalo Bills hit the inevitable rough patch this season and drop consecutive games, all that grand parading will fade out of the national media’s view.  And I’ll have to settle on the knowledge that in a few years when the Bills return to their losing ways, they won’t get even a mention by anything other then our sports loving local outlets.  In the meantime, I’m going to bask in the glory that is a winning Bills team.  I just hope all those star power team fans will let me enjoy this fleeting moment.


Written by huxbux

September 24, 2008 at 9:51 pm

Posted in Sports

Tagged with , , ,

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