NB: This rant applies to all sports, not just hockey.
Every now and then there is an event of such epic proportions that words can not do it justice. The shock is significant, leaving you feeling shaky, irritable, and uncertain about what to do next. Unfortunately, I had one of these experiences this past week. In the course of my usual travails around the digital universe, I had the great misfortune to land on a sports highlight show. Now normally, this is not an issue that causes me such anxiety, but in this specific instance the aforementioned highlight show was showing, complete with in-depth analysis, I repeat in-depth analysis, clips from an exhibition hockey game.
Here’s one of my rules in life and I encourage all television producers or aspiring television producers to adopt it as well. Under no circumstances should exhibition ANYTHING take precedence in a highlight package over a sporting event that actually counts in the standings. Period. While I would readily apply this rule to any sport, the incident that has most recently left me scarred was an exhibition game involving the Toronto Maple Leafs. I do not know who they were playing against. I do not care who they were playing against. All I know is that I had the great misfortune of having John Liu or some other “informative” TSN personality breathlessly analyzing the Leafs game as if their defeat of the North Carolina State Ice Hockey team (or some similar team) is some barometer of success during the regular season. Newsflash to the leafs fans actually putting some stock in these games; get a life.
In sports, despite all the clichés and assorted other crap we were inundated with as youths, the only thing that matters is who wins. That’s why the only categories listed in the sports pages are wins, losses, and the occasional tie. There isn’t a column for giving 110 percent, or trying your hardest, or games you should have won but didn’t. That’s why exhibition games do not matter and as such should not be reported on with the detail shown by TSN, SPORTSNET, and The Score. At the end of the exhibition season, do you get any reward over the team that finished dead last? Of course not. Exhibition games are bastardizations of sport and should be treated as such by the respective media.
So, I say to you Steve Kouleas of The Score, stop screaming at me about the great play of random Ottawa Senator defenseman who will be returned to his OHL team before the NHL season begins, because I do not care. And listen up Hockeycentral panel on Sportsnet, I really do not need your breaking news that the Los Angeles Kings have placed Dan Cloutier on waivers—if he was any good, he would not be on waivers in the first place. And last but not least, listen real good TSN SportsCentre producer, under no circumstances should Toronto Maple Leafs exhibition highlights, with or without post game analysis, be shown on my screen before I am fully updated on the pennant races in Major League Baseball, any occurrences in the NFL, and for that matter any professional sports league that is in the process of playing a game that actually counts. Even Nascar. And I hate Nascar.
For Illegal Curve, I am Andrew M.
About the writer: Formerly a speech writer for a Canadian Federal Politician, Andrew will be bringing his unique take on the hockey world to the illegal curve blog once a week, or more often if the rage needs to be released in a manner other than clobbering a referee over the head with a whiskey bottle. Mainly because he doesn’t have enough empty whiskey bottles at his disposal.