Niagara Gazette

December 2, 2013

MEILER: Apologies for the beaten sports narratives

By Mike Meiler
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Sports journalists in Western New York catch a lot of flak for their perceived negativity.

New to the field but having grown up in the area, I’ve seen it from both the fan and reporter perspectives. There’s a certain amount of skepticism necessary to effectively cover a beat, but writing too many negative stories can paint the reporter as having some sort of personal agenda.

Each event covered is a competition to come up with the best angle, which itself involves finding the delicate balance between what is most interesting and what is most relevant. Unfortunately with Buffalo’s major sports teams, what’s overwhelmingly relevant has more often been negative than not, and in ways that eliminate the possibility of writing something lighter. Sunday’s Bills game against the Atlanta Falcons in Toronto was a prime example.

Every NFL game is an event compared to other leagues because of how few weeks there are in a season. Buffalo’s annual Toronto game is more so, thanks to the overwhelmingly negative fan approval of the move, the money the Bills make from the game and the lengths both the league and the organization go to in an effort to promote it.

There are countless angles coming out of each Toronto game, and with the number of reporters covering it, a quick Internet search should reveal a plethora of different stories. If the Bills were any good, there’d be stories about The

Beach Boys playing at halftime, interesting features on new Canadian fans and quirky satires on embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who was in attendance. A win wouldn’t be such a monumental occasion and a loss — even one as heartbreaking as Sunday’s — wouldn’t be such cause for concern.

Instead, the Bills coughed up their already faint playoff hopes with a pair of hilariously foreseeable fumbles. When Matt Bryant’s field goal sailed through the uprights, none of the other stories mattered, and for good reason. The only stories anyone will want to read will feature the same three quotes from Doug Marrone, Stevie Johnson and Scott Chandler, simply because of the magnitude of the loss.

This isn’t written in an attempt to change anything, simply to explain it. And until Buffalo’s organizations improve to the point where fans can start to enjoy some of the simpler perks that come along with housing a pair of professional teams, readers of all local publications should accept the negative press. It isn’t going anywhere.

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