When the Behind the Vegas Ice television show was first announced it was dubbed a docu-drama, not a documentary. I wondered what that meant, but after watching Episode 2, I now know.
Late in the episode there is a scene discussing the trademark denial and how the organization is handling the issue. Feel free to judge for yourself, but despite the team claiming otherwise, to my untrained eye, the scene is staged, and possibly even scripted.
**Video from Behind The Vegas Ice, Episode 2. Aired by Cox Communications, Produced by Levy Productions. In conjunction with Vegas Golden Knights.**
**For full clip go to BehindtheVegasIce.com, Episode 2, start at 23:11.**
(Camera pointed at an empty door, enter Kerry Bubolz, Vegas Golden Knights Team President. Enters into the office of Peter Sadowski, Chief Legal Advisor, sitting behind a cluttered desk and a pair of computer screens.)
Hey Peter, normally I’d say happy Friday, but I don’t know if you’ve seen the latest version of the Review Journal here, but the sports section… this thing is not going to go away.
(Bubolz sits down a copy of the RJ with the headline “Amateur hour needs to end in Las Vegas”) [Here is that article]
Well, we’ll just have to defend our name, and I’m really confident we’ll keep it.
(The scene continues into a game of Sadowski quizzing Bubolz on professional team names that are shared with collegiate ones. Chicago/Baylor Bears. Philadelphia/Boston College Eagles. On and on they go, playing the game.)
The one I really like, the Grizzlies, Memphis Grizzlies
(Sadowski removes his glasses, cracks a wry smile)
University of Montana.
This is not going to go anywhere, and once we respond to the trademark office, and we’ll make a nice response quickly, this will get resolved. It’s not something we should worry about.
Ok, then I’ll get with the business team and let them know that it’s business as usual, and we’ll start getting ready for next October.
The official word from the team.
We are pleased with the passionate fan response to Behind the Vegas Ice. While docudramas do allow for reenactments of actual events, this was not one of them. It was a real-time conversation that occurred between our team president and chief legal counsel. With each episode, we will continue to show the inner workings of our organization, on both the hockey operations side and the business side. -Nehme Abouzeid, Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer
That was a real-time conversation? I guess I could be wrong, but to me, that sure looked like a staged conversation to me. It definitely wasn’t behind the scenes, it was just a scene and it was a clear attempt to control the message about the situation, right smack in the middle of what everyone watching thought was a real life documentary about the creation of a real life hockey team. To be fair, there is a part of this that’s on us, they did call it a docu-drama, but it was being mascaraed as something completely different.
Behind the Vegas Ice will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the Vegas Golden Knights. -Cox Communications Press Release
With this show, they’ll get an up-close look at the realities of putting together a pro sports team. -The Creator (in press release)
Documenting the creation of the team, the behind the scenes footage, of not just Bill, but all the team that’s involved in bringing this team to fruition. There’s a lot of behind the scenes and exclusive things that fans have not seen and will not see anywhere but this show. -Nehme Abouzeid, Chief Marketing Officer to SinBin.vegas
We’ve created a documentary that promises to make our town and sports fans proud of its first professional sports franchise. -Mike Parisi, Vice President of Cox Media (in press release)
At different points I’d also heard it compared to HBO’s 24/7. It’s not.
This isn’t the story of the genesis of a hockey team. It’s a utopic story of the perfect hockey team told through the lens of the perfect owner, in the perfect city, where nothing goes wrong, and everyone is happy. And that is a sign of a much bigger problem with the organization.
They are attempting to control the message being sent out through propaganda techniques. Rather than show the real life meeting about the trademark situation, in which there is likely actual concern voiced, we get an episode of Dora the Explorer where Swiper steals Dora’s backpack and Boots sings a song to explain to the 4 year old viewer that stealing is bad.
Ask anyone, hockey fan or not, about the possibility of the team having to change their name, and many will admit there’s at least a small chance (59% in our poll). Yet rather than being truthful and honest, we’re fed an allegedly (again, you be the judge) made up interaction that may have even been written by someone not even appearing in the scene.
What makes sports great is drama. They are the greatest soap opera in the world. When a Game of Thrones episode ends with Ned getting his head chopped off we all gasp, but quickly realize, the show is fiction. Enthralling, but fake. When a hockey player misses a wide open net in overtime of the Stanley Cup Finals Game 7, that’s real life. It’s real heartache, there’s real triumph, that’s why sports are the most popular form of entertainment on the planet.
The problem is the fact that there’s a controlled message. Whatever is best for the team, best for PR, best for The Creator, is what is shown. When there’s a misstep, it’s either ignored (#VideoGate) or it’s allegedly reenacted to take out the realism we actually want to see. Controlling the message means cheating the fans of the real story, especially when a show is promised to go “behind the scenes.”
Is this being done because they are afraid of losing the fan base? Because there’s a certain level of embarrassment that’s been associated with the team? Because they believe Vegas fans are so new to professional sports that we won’t be smart enough to notice the difference?
Whatever it is, it may work for now, especially in a TV show that most can’t watch, but in the long run it will destroy the fan base. It will upset and anger fans, and they’ll begin to lash out. It’s already happened a bit, and that was over a video not playing on the big screen.
That situation was handled perfectly. “We’ll be a lot better than that on the ice,” the Creator said. Bingo. Acknowledge the mistake, demand more, and move on.
The exact opposite is happening with the trademark situation. It’s being swept under the rug, being made out to be a non-starter. When in fact, a majority of the fan base thinks there’s at least a slight chance it’s a big enough issue to cause the team to change it’s name.
What’s going to be the controlled message when the team loses it’s first 15 games of the season? What will be the message when their first overall draft pick is mysteriously absent from morning skate? I’d keep going down the slippery slope into drugs, gambling, and whatever else people think players are going to do in Las Vegas, but I think you get my point.
This particular situation is just a two minute scene in a TV show that featured 28 minutes of otherwise great material, but it’s a sign of a bigger trend.
Honesty is not the policy when documentaries are called docu-dramas. Amateur hour is definitely not over in (Las) Vegas.