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!”
This is the cover of the Ottawa Sun this morning, after the Ottawa Senators beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 in the first game of their first round NHL playoff matchup.
It shows Lars Eller, a Canadiens forward, bloodied on the ice after Eric Gryba, a Senators defenseman, ran him over in Montreal’s defensive zone during the second period. It was a play for which Gryba would receive a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct.
As a child, I despised calling on other children. I dreaded the awkward interaction with parents, the strangely inherent sense of authority held over me by a complete stranger and the feeling that I was interrupting or presenting an imposition with my request to hang out with their offspring.
I vividly remember an uncomfortable moment from my childhood in which I knocked on the door of my friend Mark, who lived in my neighborhood. His mother answered, and when I asked her if Mark could come and play, she said something incoherent to me about baseball. I informed her that yes, it was entirely possible that we might play baseball, and then we stood silently in the foyer of her home for what seemed like ten minutes.
Finally, she told me to come back another time, and so I left, certain that Mark’s mother was a little bit deranged. Walking home, friendless, I pieced together the words I knew she said to me from our awkward exchange with the words she might have spoken. The results of my word investigation revealed that I had failed to understand Mark couldn’t waste time with me because he was practicing baseball.
I thought about how absurd it was to practice something like baseball. It seemed like homework, something I avoided by playing baseball. In my mind, putting effort into getting better at a game defeated the whole purpose of playing the game. Later, when Mark emerged as the best player on our baseball team, I justified his superiority on the field by the fact that he practiced. I reconciled the gulf in ability between us by saying to myself that I could be just as good if I was willing to lower myself to actually trying to do so.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but my internal rationalization was similar to the underlying principles of the grotesque modern Olympic ideal. Masked in the false virtues of amateurism, superior athletes who competed professionally were outcast in favor of those who leaned on their own means to fund a more leisurely training, or had the political gravitas of an aristocratic surname that was able to induce government investment in their recreation.
Spending all day – every day – immersed in sports is a bit like working at Pizza Hut and eating nothing but pizza. If one is unburdened by such matters as personal health and waistline size, pizza is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, too much of a wonderful thing is likely to leave one no longer believing the wonderful thing to be all that wonderful.
Sports are really, really great. However, the more time you spend reading and writing about a topic, the greater the chance that its ugliness will be realized. This is why our focus often becomes embittered by all of the negative aspects present in sports. We forget why sports are so great to begin with. And so, that’s where The Week In Sports Happiness comes into play.
Every week, I’ll present the ten things that are making me happy from the world of sports. It might be a particular article, it could be a winning streak, it may even be an animated GIF. No matter what, it’s from sports, it made me feel good inside, and I hope it does the same for you.
I rewrote this article several times after the attacks in Boston. Security at sporting events would be a tangential part of a story that focused on what ifs. What if Günter Parche could tone down his Steffi Graf obsession. What if security at the Citizen Cup was able to prevent one of the defining moments in tennis history from taking place on April 30th, 1993.
Security theater was made for sporting events. The act of waiting outside of stadiums for pat downs and a jaunt through the metal detector was a ritual most of us – save for the nervous 17-year-old with a mickey in his sock – paid no mind. We were safe because a group of part-time employees took a course over the weekend. Their presence did not ensure protection. It wasn’t about that. Seeing a police car on the street late at night – those officers could be dirty cops. Observing an accused murderer finally being caught – he could be innocent. We rely on aesthetics for reassurance. The bombings in Boston changed that, just like the bombing during the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Before Atlanta and Boston was Hamburg. An event marred not by a terrorist attack, but an unhinged, knife wielding man who would alter the future of women’s tennis.
Today, we cheer for Jason Collins, who began a first-person column for Sports Illustrated by writing the following:
I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.
I don’t feel this urge to cheer for him because he’s a homosexual. After all, I wouldn’t cheer for another athlete because he’s a heterosexual.
Just imagine: High-five! You prefer a particular gender for sexual relations and potential domestic partnership. Yes! Fist bumps all around.
It’s so absurd, and yet, not that far off from what’s actually expressed by those who would attempt to discriminate against a certain type of people based on such things.
I cheer for Jason Collins because I cheer for courage. I cheer for Jason Collins because I cheer for social progress. I cheer for Jason Collins because somewhere there’s a young athlete confused about whom he or she is, and a black 34-year-old NBA center just made it easier for them to understand that they’re not weird, that their preferences aren’t wrong, that what they feel inside might just make them a little bit like Jason Collins. And that’s something for which cheering is worthwhile.
Following a defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals in Vancouver on April 22nd, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith was interviewed by Karen Thomson for Team 1040 radio. She asked Keith specifically about a two-handed slash to the back of Canucks forward Daniel Sedin after he scored Vancouver’s third goal of the game. Keith condescendingly suggested that no such incident happened.
Oh, no. I don’t think there was. I think he scored a nice goal, and that’s what the ref saw. Maybe we should get you as a ref maybe, eh? The first female referee. Can’t play probably either, right? But you’re thinking the game, like you know it? Yeah, see ya.
Demeaning and unprofessional? Certainly. Sexist? I’m not entirely sure.