Of Tampa Bay sports and media focus

I’ve been put off since last week while scanning headlines and online coverage of news in the Tampa Bay area and seeing a greater-than-usual focus put on the Gasparilla Pirate Festival than usual, while the marquee mid-season event of the NHL All-Star Weekend was an afterthought (or a complication to Gasparilla festivities). It felt almost like the NHL and Tampa Bay Lightning are afterthoughts.

In fact, disappointment and issues with the Bucs holding the headlines in the fall of 2017 and through the early weeks of 2018 have taken away notice to casual readers of local headlines online than the Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t just been playing games, but have been (and this will floor you) winning. Not just winning, but standing as the most competitive franchise in the National Hockey League.  In 49 games played this season, the Bolts have won 34. Between that statistic and the 3 Overtime Losses, Tampa Bay has 71 points on the season – 3 more than the Vegas Golden Knights in overall league competitiveness and five more points than the second-place team in the Eastern Conference (as well as Atlantic Division), the Boston Bruins.

And the Bucs went 5-11.

So, with the not-a-priority in headline placement, I’ll just give you a stat-line take on the Bolts all-time against the Bucs. The franchise that dominates coverage does not so much dominate sports competitiveness.

Take this with a grain of salt as it’s unclear how “overtime loses” factors in on all-time win percentage with NHL clubs. I’ll treat an overtime loss as a loss, even if NHL teams get a point for suffering one. We’re talking win percentage here and a win is not a loss (even if a loss gets you a point which can play into the standings and such).

As of Monday, January 29, 2018 before the resumption of the NHL regular season, the all time results are thus:

Tampa Bay Lightning

Games Played Win Loss Tie Overtime Losses Win Percentage
1953 824 882 112 135

.451

The NHL goes by point percentage over win percentage but that does not compare and contrast to the other pro sports in North America. Ties are a half-win. I take losses as losses (in overtime or the shootout or regulation) in calculating win percentage here. It’s up for debate really.

The Lightning franchise also has 9 playoff berths in 24 completed NHL seasons. Unless a total and complete collapse happens from this point onward in the final 33 games in the Lightning season, they’ll be in their 10th berth at the end of this 25th regular-season.

And then there’s Tampa Bay Buccaneer football:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Games Played

Win Loss Tie Winning Percentage
660 255 404 1

.387

Those numbers come from 41 completed seasons of play. While the team has 10 playoff berths in that span and a Super Bowl championship, it also has spans of 14 seasons and currently 10 seasons’ in-a-row without a playoff berth. There are arguments and excuses for season blights, individual losses or missing the playoffs but it doesn’t improve a win percentage. A loss is a loss, even if it’s a nail-biter or one with an arguable call.

Regardless of competitiveness in their professional league, the Lightning are second-fiddle to the awe-shucks, maybe-next-time efforts of Buccaneer football. Especially in the local media who brushed off a major league event that led to the region being highlighted by national and international media (as well as the athletes) who heaped praise upon its acceptance and embrace of the sport of ice hockey. To point to Gasparilla as a reason for distraction from events this past weekend is to use a smokescreen. After all, if this were the Super Bowl or even the annually brushed-off and overlooked NFL Pro Bowl, Gasparilla would be (and has been) forgotten in local media in favor of putting focus on the pending marquee moment and events tied to it.

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