According to a press release from TSN, SportsCentre anchors Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole will be leaving Canada’s largest sports network in June to pursue opportunities in the United States. The news release doesn’t mention FOX Sports specifically, but does cite Los Angeles as the pair’s destination, which also happens to be the location for FOX’s new national sports network’s base.
The move elicited a sorrowful response from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Twitter, simultaneously confirming the duo’s verging on iconic popularity in their home country and that Canada is very much the New Zealand of the Western Hemisphere. Even to the most critical, the light-hearted approach to sports highlights from Onrait and O’Toole was a breath of fresh air in a typically stodgy environment.
FOX Sports 1 is expected to become one of the largest channel launches in television history when it begins broadcasting in August. This is thanks to the network replacing the already established SPEED network, which means it will immediately supplant NBC Sports Network as America’s second largest national sports network with estimated availability in 90 million homes.
But just in case there’s any worry of the two sportscasters becoming too big for their britches, Onrait promises that although “we may be heading south, we remain forever CANADIAN!”
Today is NHL Trade Deadline Day. For anyone subjected to a steady diet of sports television coverage in Canada, this is a fact that would be difficult to escape. There are few subjects that garner more attention from mainstream sports networks in the Great White North than hockey, and there are few single-day events in the sport that are more conducive to those employed by media outlets for their “insider” status than the last day in which NHL teams are allowed to make trades before the end of the season.
It all sounds exciting. Breaking news. Superstars on the move. Teams going all in. General managers getting roasted. Future lineups being projected.
Trade Deadline Day is a lot like New Year’s Eve. In our minds we imagine that we’ll spend the last day of the year as though it’s 1991, and we’re Axl Rose. In reality, we’re negotiating with a cab driver how much we’ll pay for the vomit that spilled out of our mouths on the back seat of the taxi. Likewise, we imagine today to be about draft picks being exchanged for impact players that will decide whether the current season is bust or boom. In reality, today is about dozens of men in suits fiddling with smart phones trying to be the first one to share the details of a fourth line winger being traded for a sixth round draft pick via social media.
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There exists a strange sort of arrogance in Canadian culture. It’s one that helps us feel a meager measure of superiority over our larger, louder, more populous and far less concerned neighbors to the South. It’s one that values the idea of a cultural mosaic above that of a melting pot, and it imagines that such a hierarchy of values rings true in the hearts of every Canadian. It’s one that says:
Hey there, Mr. and Mrs. Immigrant, there’s a nice little place for you right here in the collective stained glass window of our nation.
It’s patently false. We’re a country of ignorant and stupid morons who discriminate against people with differences just like every other nation on earth. What’s so maddening to me about Canada’s xenophobia is that a) I live in this country and not others, where I’m sure I’d be equally disturbed by it; b) That we imagine ourselves to be so high above something that we’re not; and c) The continued platform given to Don Cherry by Canada’s national broadcasting network.
On the Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, Gurdeep Ahluwalia and Nabil Karim hosted TSN’s Sports Centre (notice the “re” instead of the “er”), as they did once before in March of 2012. Both Ahluwalia and Karim have brown-colored skin. This, to many Canadian sports fans who are used to seeing the white-colored skin of Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole was cause to take to social media and express off-colored jokes.
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On Tuesday morning, the weekly Miami New Times News released an investigative report that attached the names of several Major League Baseball players to Biogenesis, a recently closed anti-aging clinic that was revealed to be in the business of supplying banned substances from human growth hormone to testosterone to anabolic steroid. Among the names found in the lab’s records were New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Oakland A’s starting pitcher Bartolo Colon and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera.
Nowhere to be found in any of the sourced records was American League Most Valuable Player, and the first hitter in 45 years to win his league’s Triple Crown, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.
Nonetheless, such details didn’t stand in the way of Canada’s national television sports network, TSN, from televising a graphic that mistook Melky Cabrera for Miguel Cabrera during its 6:00 PM broadcast of Sports Centre. It’s an extraordinary embarrassment on multiple levels. In addition to Miguel’s being among the most recognizable faces that the game offers, it should be remembered that Melky signed a free agent contract this off season with the only Canadian team in the Major Leagues, a team with which a Canadian national television sports network might be somewhat familiar.
Image via @DHSpeedagon.