Victory, But for Who?
should be a great time to be a Minnesota fan.
the Gophers’ quest to win a third straight national championship
is gaining momentum. They’ve won six in a row, all of which
have come at the expense of bitter rivals St. Cloud State, Minnesota
Duluth and North Dakota. If the tournament plays out true to form,
Minnesota will play UMD in Grand Rapids, Mich., Sunday for a Frozen
Four berth, with the winner likely drawing the Fighting Sioux
in the semifinals.
So why did
Minnesota fans spend the first part of this week wringing their
hands and generally acting as if the ghost of Ralph Engelstad
has returned from the great beyond to kick Goldy Gopher in the
consternation in the Land of 11,842 Lakes can generally be narrowed
to the following trio – mosquitoes, the Minnesota Department
of Transportation and Carl Pohlad.
Monty Burns-esque president of Marquette Bancshares and owner
of the Minnesota Twins, also owns a fledgling cable outlet called
Victory Sports. Its primary purpose is serve as the home of Twins
broadcasts, but Victory also secured the rights to air this weekend’s
NCAA hockey regional games. One problem: Victory Sports is available
to roughly three cable and/or satellite customers in the Upper
OK, so we’re
exaggerating a little. Thirty cable providers in the area carry
Victory, but the giants that serve most of the Twin Cities –
Comcast, Charter and Time Warner – aren’t among them.
Seems the cash-strapped cable companies (those four words have
never been used in the same sentence in the history of the mankind
until now) aren’t willing to shell out the cabbage Victory
say, the stubbornness of two fabulously wealthy entities had Gopher
fans on edge. How would you feel if your team began defense of
its national title and you couldn’t watch…but folks
in hockey hotbeds like Memphis and Tulsa could?
it to a baseball channel to screw up college hockey,” Gopher
fan Mark Fritsche said. “How can a channel that has little
to no distribution pick up the NCAA regionals…and hose all
of us Gopher fans?”
a situation like this, cooler heads would prevail. Not here. Gopher
fans, frothing at the mouth, badgered (no pun intended) both Victory
Sports and the cable conglomerates to make something happen….now!
Fans flooded both sides with phone calls and e-mails. The impasse
was the hot topic of discussion in the Twin Cities – in
the newspapers, on television, talk radio and Internet message
All the pressure
and vitriol from the outside left the big wheels with no choice
other than to come up with a solution or face the torrent of criticism
that would be sure to follow. So they made a deal. The cable companies
will pick up Victory Sports for the weekend, allowing viewers
to watch their beloved Gophers (or Bulldogs or Badgers or Fighting
Sioux) from the comfort of their own homes.
for one, will watch Saturday’s game with friends either
at his home or his group’s favorite pre-game hangout. Quite
a change from a few days ago, when such options were non-existent.
one of my fellow Minnesota fans said,” Fritsche recalled,
"never underestimate the passion of a Gopher hockey fan."