I have to admit, I am kind of bummed. I have always been proud to be a hockey fan. We (at least us in the States) are a bit of an anomaly. A community that sticks to their team with passion only found in the NFL after 5 hours of pregame beer and brats. Or the NBA after dropping a few hundred bucks on some Jordan’s (or Kobe’s?). And even during the best moments in the MLB (World Series), baseball has that pastoral picnic quality then we can jump in and out of during the course of 162 games.
If anyone doubts the pure passion hockey fans bring to the table, browse some of the archives posts of A2Y, Malik’s relentless reports or basically anything in the comments section of any post found here (seriously just pick any random post).
I am secretly satisfied whenever the latest controversy pops up in the other 3 major U.S. professional sports. Who is the latest to cheat, break the law, talk bad about their team. What insanely strong man has decided to "teach" his wife a lesson? Who shot who? Who got shot? Money, drugs, fame. I can’t pretend to understand the world of professional sports other than to know I am more likely to end up on the front page of the paper for doing something stupid then Pavel Datsyuk.
I know hockey isn't perfect. We have our fair share of controversy. I understand that the lack of most Americans caring about hockey probably helps damper the drama. But still. Hockey players are walking cliché machines. They say the right things, they stay out of the spotlight.
They have foundations and charities and are saving the world one goal at a time. Ok, maybe I wearing blinders.
The most recent controversy with the Maple Leafs has really put a damper on the hockey world for me. I am not a Maple Leafs fan. I could care less what goes on with their team as long as my team is beating them. The more I read about the tensions with the media and the players and the total lack of respect that seems to be happening, both ways, has made me look at the way I view my favorite team and players, in media interactions, different.
The cliché thing never really bothered me before. It’s beginning to. In one article I read the author talks about how players are always just looking over the reporters heads, not treating them like people, much less respect, but more as a burden. That begs the question, do players have a responsibility to the media? I think that answer is yes.
Not because the media deserves it, there are many times bounds are overstepped and lines are crossed. Media is to provide a conduit to the fans, pure and simple.
I find myself watching interviews closer now and I see that thousand yard stare in the player’s eye. The clichés pour out, the player is looking over the person they are talking to. They are burdened by having to talk about the game and look for the quickest way out of the conversation. String together a players interviews over the course of the season and I bet you hear the same thing just about every time. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t care about how many words a reporter has to write or how many seconds they need to fill on TV. That interview is for ME. I get pissed at the questions, I get pissed at the answers.
Interviewer: "What do you need to do to be successful tonight?"
Player: "Skate hard, get bodies in front of the goalie, and get some shots early"
Interviewer: “What do you think of your team’s performance that period?"
Player: "Well we came out and skated hard (slow), had (didn’t have) bodies in front of the goalie and got some good (poor) bounces early".
Interviewer: "Big win (tough loss) for your team tonight, what did you think?"
Player: Yea that was a big (tough) win (loss) for us tonight. I thought we got a good (bad) start, Drove (didn’t drive) to the net and made the goalie make some big saves (get to good a look at the puck)
Every. Single. Game.
It pisses me off. I love hockey. I love watching and going to games. And I pay for that. I am not rich and I am not saying I am entitled to anything. What I am pointing out is the obvious. Jerseys cost money. Tickets cost money. Driving, parking, eating, drinking, merchandise. There are a lot of people vying for my money, what little I have.
If I buy a newspaper, subscribe to a newspaper site, buy an NHL app or game center live, I am supporting the media too. I purchase these things because I can’t afford to buy season tickets. I can’t drive an hour each way to go to 41 games a year even if I could buy the tickets. I don’t get to attend the high end charity events or the season ticket holder one on ones. The media is my access into the world I love.
That is maybe what a lot of players are missing when all they see are cameras and microphones and lights in their eyes. Or when the media is looking at a player would rather be anywhere else at the moment so why bother. I am not asking for much (other than winning every single night, never giving up a goal and bringing the Stanley Cup home every single year) except a little respect. The older I get, the wiser I get, the more jaded I get the more turned off I get to the self-centered personality and the anything for the story attitude.
When thinking about writing this I had planned on linking the articles that have bugged me or maybe some video of the clichés I am writing about but the more I googled anything about these things the more apathetic I felt. Why bother getting passionate about something when the people who can change things do not care. The media has failed. The players have failed. And it bums me out