Monday, June 02, 2008

Why does it always have to be apocalyptic?

"CAN SID THE KID SAVE HOCKEY?"

Err, no. Even if he were the greatest player ever, he'd still have to play against someone, still need challengers and nemeses and opponents so that the game was worth watching. And by setting up this artificial crisis - hockey's doing quite well since the strike, thank you, with higher TV ratings and attendance - the sensationalist wing of the sports media sets Crosby, and hockey, up for failure if he's not utterly transcendent this first time on the national stage. Oh my God, he didn't score nine goals in the first three minutes, he must be a failure. Oh my God, the Penguins are getting stomped by a better, more experienced team, in much the same way the Rockies got stomped by the Red Sox? Call the riot police, Crosby's career is in ruins and the NHL is in flames.

It's ridiculous, inappropriate, and wrong, and it cannibalizes the very product that sportswriters should be celebrating. Crosby is a transcendent talent; the story ought to be about his showing off his skills in prime time and playing up all the other marketable aspects of this series, not a contrived doomsday scenario. And if they shout "hockey is dead!" enough times with nonsense like this, well, someone might start to believe them...which would then put a whole bunch of sportswriters out of work.

I'm not suggesting that journalists need to be senseless pollyannas. But if they love and respect the sports they're covering, they need to recognize the potential effect of the stories they choose to promulgate, and to think about, just maybe, not making it apocalypse now, every time.
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