Photo credit: Nathan Denette/Canadian Press
The common gripe you see a lot of Toronto Raptors fans preach over the years is that the team doesn’t get the respect it deserves from the American media.
When you have been a part of the fanbase for as long as I have (I bought an Andrea Bargnani jersey on draft day), and you hear something said so much – you start to question if there is any validity to the statement.
So, for this edition of “Overthinking It,” I figured I would dig a tiny bit deeper and find out:
Are the Raptors disrespected by American media?
In short… Yes they are.
Like a lot.
There was a span of 10 years between 2004 and 2014 that Toronto had a combined FOUR games televised south of the border.
We have seen it time and time again, where the Raptors are just forgotten on major American sports publications – if you need proof, check out this YouTube video from friend-of-the-site Luca Rosano.
But there are reasons that somewhat make sense.
It’s a business
So, when people argue that they are missing out on an entire country worth of viewership, they really aren’t. Canadians can’t watch their channel, so why broadcast the team?
The ratings the Raptors get in Canada don’t matter to TNT and ESPN. Toronto doesn’t have much of a reach in the American markets so there is very little reason to air them down south.
The only time they get any love is when they have a star player to guarantee views.
Toronto has had three seasons where they saw at least 15 games televised in the US. In 2000 to 2002 — the peak of the Vince Carter era — and 2018/19 when that guy named Kawhi Leonard stopped by.
So yes, it is a business and you can’t argue with numbers. At the same time though, isn’t it a bad business decision to completely ostracize one team? The Raptors are a product of the NBA, you would think the league would be doing everything they could to tap into a rather untouched market.
What the NBA either doesn’t realize (or chooses to ignore?) is that they are shooting the Raptors in both of their feet… and their tails too.
For those of you saying “I don’t care about the United States, I don’t care if they show our games there!”
The more the Toronto Raptors are talked about by the American media, the more recognized the team becomes.
The more recognizable the team gets, the easier they are to market – making it easier to lure big name free agents to the city and the less they worry about weather and taxes.
The reason why Toronto gets an “undesirable” label is simply because they are an unknown team to everyone but us!
Could you imagine choosing to live in the city of Milwaukee over Toronto? Yet, in a move that can only be summed up by a lack of knowledge about Canada, people do it…
Who’s to blame?
It is easy to get mad at the Americans for ignoring us, but I think we should be getting mad at the Canadians for enabling them.
For as much as I’m upset with TNT and ESPN for essentially ignoring the Raptors since 1996 – I feel like the Canadian broadcasters have had to have put some roadblocks in their way.
If Canadians aren’t going to hear it, Americans aren’t going to say it, so it’s on both countries to figure their stuff out and give The Toronto Raptors the platform they deserve.