The Lack of Animosity is Hurting the World Cup of Hockey

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It is not the kind of match up we wanted to see in the finals of the World Cup of Hockey. We expected Canada to reach but Team Europe doesn’t scream marquee. Yes, Europe does have a number of quality NHL players like Zdeno Chara and Anze Kopitar. But if you are on Team Canada, Europe is not a team you get pumped up for.

It would have been nice to see Canada vs. US or Canada vs. Russia in the final. Even the North American Under 23 team against any of those three nations would have made for must see TV. Some have complained about the lack of excitement in the tournament. But the one key ingredient that seems to be missing is animosity. Not punching each other out kind of animosity but if there is no intensity and hate between the two teams then it makes for pretty boring hockey, kind of like the All-Star Game. Animosity doesn’t seem to be a problem in other international competitions so how come the games we are watching is more pond hockey than the Stanley Cup Final? Even the game between Canada and the US didn’t feature a lot the nastiness that we have been accustomed to seeing in competitions like this.

Perhaps this is because most of the players participating in the tournament are on NHL teams. Some who are once arch rivals are now teammates while others who play for the same NHL club are opponents. Maybe because this tournament is being held prior to start of the NHL season, there is no effort from players to go full-out and risk getting hurt. Whatever it is, no one seems to want the championship so bad that they will knock opponents off their skates. But animosity would have solved that. Animosity brings out the best in athletes. Animosity drives players. Animosity makes for great hockey.

There is nothing wrong with having some animosity in sport. If anything, the tournament was designed to attract politically correct folks who wouldn’t normally watch a hockey game, or sports in general, due to its violent nature. Hockey is not a gentleman’s sport. Sure they will shake hands at the end of their battle. But no one should be kind to one another once the puck drops. There ought to be blood, loss of teeth, and maybe a broken bone or two. And I have hardly have ever since a drop of it in this tournament.

If the World Cup of Hockey is to continue to thrive, there better be some feistiness among teams or you can put it on the shelf permanently.

Also see:

Bad Blood is Good for Sports
The Latest Futile Attempt to Ban Fighting in Hockey
International Rules in the NHL? No Thanks

Is the Media Cheering for a Blue Jays Demise?

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There is someone I know in the media circles who was hoping the Blue Jays will do terribly in 2016. The basis for his statement is the installment of Mark Shapiro as Team President and later on Ross Clark as General Manager. He believed the two would tear down the work of Paul Beeston and Alex Anthopoulos and start over from scratch. Plus he is worried that the Blue Jays would become “Americanized” whatever the hell that means. As ridiculous as his comments are, he is not a lone wolf.

After a slow start to the month of September, the Blue Jays have rebounded during their west coast road trip and have held on to one of the two wild card spots in the American League. While Blue Jays fans are still behind the team, there is a faction who like nothing better to see the team crash to the ground. And it is often the media that is leading the charge. This is not like tanking for the entire season in order to secure the first overall pick, which by the way I still think is a ridiculous way of improving a team. But the media could care less about the Blue Jays. They would rather see a struggling Yankees team than a successful team based in a Canadian city.

Just about every website, newspaper, radio, or television program is hosted by someone who is critical of the Blue Jays. That’s not to say criticism is not welcomed but I would expect them to address hitters who are not driving in runs and a bullpen that can’t hold leads late in the game. I don’t read or hear that coming from the media. When the Blue Jays were winning division titles and world series championships in the early 1990’s, there was so much negative attack on Manager Cito Gaston. Despite being black, Gaston got ridiculed regularly by sports reporters made up of mostly white men. This kind of hate would draw ire by others in the industry. But Gaston must have been a conservative Republican because there was no such resentment towards the media.

There are the usual suspects like Mark Spector and Marty York. To their credit, they don’t hide the fact that they hate Toronto no matter which team it is. To them, Drake and Mike Myers are probably considered persona non grata. Then there’s the rest of Toronto media. They are often left-leaning, and despises competition of any kind: commerce, education, health care, etc. But especially in sports where in their world there is no winners and losers. And don’t get me started on fighting in hockey. To top it off, Canada’s major league baseball team is mostly made up of Americans. Even if all of them plan to vote for Hillary Clinton in the upcoming US Presidential Election in November, their association with a country that has cops shoot supposedly unarmed black people puts them on the enemies list.

It is rather disgusting to see and hear the Blue Jays continually being put down by these so-called journalists. But as I have mention before a number of times, there are people who blindly accept everything in the media as fact. By the time the truth is revealed, the damage is already done. I don’t expect them to change anytime soon. They think bad news sells but I also believe fans today will not buy it. We will see how the rest of the season goes. Chances are the media won’t like what they see, the Blue Jays making a deep playoff run.

Also see:

The Blue Jays are Doing Well, So Why All the Panic?
Rooting Against Someone is Gutless… and the Bat Flip Heard Around the World
Nobody is Watching Sports Channels

NFL: A League of Outlaws

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Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for the US national anthem prior to the start of an NFL pre-season game is the latest stunt by athletes who buy into this belief that their small action can change the world. I’m sure Kaepernick’s “statement” will make police think twice about arresting a black man (or woman) when investigating a crime.

While there have been opinions on both sides, people seem to forget (or don’t want to know) the underlying message Kaepernick wanted to send out. That is black people (or other visible minorities) should not be subject to a police investigation when they are suspected of committing a crime. He feels the colour of one’s skin is enough to justify one’s action against a biased law that governs the country. This is what I like to call the literary equivalent to diving.

What Kaepernick did was outrageous and everyone was right to criticize him. But I also think he was able to pull off his stunt because there are also those who blindly believe in the blacks-are-being-marginalized rhetoric that will support him. And that is the result of the work environment they all play in.

The NFL has been a league of outlaws since the days of Jim Brown and Lawrence Taylor. There is no respect for authority and the inmates are running the asylum. This is not to be confused with outlaw league which is totally different. Compare that to the NHL, a league where acts of being disrespectful (i.e. Sean Avery) are few and far between. There is no way Kaepernick would get away with his stunt if the league wasn’t an organization full of criminal behaviour. Ray Rice, Ricky Williams, and Ray Lewis are other examples. There is no leadership from the league’s office who are more concerned about deflated footballs than actions like Kaepernick’s. Tom Brady must be laughing at the television set as he sits in his luxurious home with his beautiful wife serving his 4-game suspension.

The easiest solution is to boycott the NFL. But to quote Stephen A. Smith, that move would be  “blasphemous”. I for one will continue to watch NFL games for this reason, there are still people in football that play football. You know, the game? As in moving a 12-inch pigskin down a 100-yard field avoiding several figures that stand in your way. Despite the problems the NFL is facing, the game of football is still the only thing that matters. Even in a league full of outlaws.

Also see:

Sports is Not a Platform for Activism
Racism Knows No Bounds
Before the Confederate Flag, There was the Springbok