The kids, all in their preteen years, crowded around the TV at the family party. Their knowledge of each athlete was impressive. They knew their backgrounds, area of expertise and accomplishments. Team owners would be proud to have fans like them.
Only they weren’t watching one of the major sports. “American Ninja Warrior” had them cheering and bouncing more than any home run or slap shot could.
Professional teams need take a lesson from the obstacle challenge that draws 6 million viewers. The show features exhilarating feats of athleticism and leads into them with touching or informative vignettes that show the personality of the participants.
By comparison, the NHL stifles its most talented players on the ice and coaches them not reveal too much about themselves for fear of … actually, I don’t know why there’s fear. As “American Ninja Warrior” shows, letting people into the athletes’ lives enhances their love of the competition and its competitors.
Baseball doesn’t need a warped wall in the outfield. Hockey doesn’t need a bungee cord at the blue line. They do need to let the athletes shine.