Editor’s note: Lamont Mann is a regular contributor to Houston Sports and Stuff.
By LAMONT MANN
In terms of local sports, I can remember when Houston referred to the June-August period as the “Dog Days of Summer.” In some weird way, the Sports Season was over after the Rockets lost in the playoffs. All we had after the Rockets was “List Radio” and we accepted it for what it is. Some fans would unplug and return in football season and some like myself would stick around and listen.
Over the years, I have witnessed the dog days gradually shrink. Dog Days is easily identified when you hear show after show bitch about “there’s nothing to talk about.” It’s tricky, because nothing about the sports calendar has changed but our habits have.
Alternative Sports Media
Locally, eight or nine years ago, Houston fans were at the mercy of the local team’s beat-writers. Outside of sports radio’s Lance Zierlein, there was little to any resources you could lean on for information about your teams. Typically, the news we were receiving was surface level, nothing really in depth outside of Lance.
Then came Social Media which allowed fans to cross collaborate in addition to alternative media outlets to develop. Alternative sports media included blogs, podcasts and independent personalities. Alternative sports media didn’t really become a thing until the local sports teams issued them credentials. The credentials legitimized them.
Local fans started leaning on alternative sports media for sports for information. It was quicker and stripped of the traditional media protocols. It was raw information.
Texans Playoff Berth
When the Houston Texans made the playoffs for the first time in 2011, I said to myself it would change the expectations. For an extended period, the Texans were a cute lovable loser team but the minute they made the playoffs, I changed. I expected playoffs every year and that was short lived. I can remember the year after the Texans made the playoffs (2012 Season) radio was popping. We could not get enough of Texans news from the minute they loss to the Baltimore Ravens all the way to September. The ratings reflected it, all shows in the market enjoyed higher ratings. Football in Houston is always going to eat but once the Texans drop off, the market will respond according.
I don’t believe the Rockets and Astros Comcast network has fully recovered. Without getting into details, a few years ago, the Rockets and Astros entered a deal with Comcast which limited local viewing. Under this deal, up to 40% of the Houston viewing area could watch the Rockets and Astros. The 40% is not entirely accurate because that number assumed Comcast subscribed 100% of their viewing audience. In other words, less than 40% of Houston could not view the Rockets and Astros. It also did not help that the Rockets and Astros were not all that good during the Comcast era.
The culprits of the whole issue locally are the Rockets and Astros. The Rockets are good and so are the Astros, so what’s the problem? The Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs are the Rockets excitement problem. I believe most fans do not think the Rockets can beat either team ahead of them. On the other hand, the Astros suffer from a cultural problem which is league wide. The interest is not there and a lot of baseball markets are also feeling it.
All in all, there are too many other alternatives in sports for fans to be slaves to a sport calendar the way we were in the past. I know from Super Bowl to September there will be events (Combine, Tournament, NFL Draft, NBA Playoffs) that will grab our attention for a short period but it will not be continuous. It’s a major difference, and It sucks hearing personalities struggle for shit to talk about in February. I know it’s not their fault, its public’s attention spans. We have changed.