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Archive for March 30, 2021

March 30, 2021 — It’s been a minute

This afternoon, it was announced that the NCAA Division I field hockey championship final is going to be broadcast on national cable TV for the first time since the mid-1990s. The tournament is scheduled for the spring, with semifinals on the streaming service ESPN+, and the championship game, direct from Karen Shelton Stadium, will be on ESPNU.

For the last few years, the Division I title game has been streamed on the NCAA website and produced by Turner Sports for several years. Before then, the game was not broadcast nationally and you had to actually go to the game in order to see it.

The agreement between the NCAA and ESPN goes until 2023, and it seems to be a collision of three trends. One is the trend of media networks to move content to streaming services with names such as Discovery Plus, Peacock, Hulu, and HBO Max. The other trend is the safety trend during the global pandemic, where streaming sports are being used to not only provide content to the home viewer, but to promote the sport to a wider audience.

But to me, the third trend is the “it’s about time” trend when it comes to women’s sports and major networks. The last few years has seen professional women’s ice hockey on NBCSN, the rise of several major women’s leagues including those run by Athletes Unlimited, and the addition of a women’s golf event at the Augusta National Golf Club.

These were simple things to do, to create these opportunities for women’s athletics to be seen across the American nation. To me, however, the heavy lifting, which took decades, was needless. These events could have occurred years ago had corporate and network executives simply listened.

Hopefully, the next four field hockey title games won’t be the last ones you can find on the self-styled “world-wide leader in sports.”