Seriously now. I’ve just got back from seeing the Toronto Marlies Vs the Hamilton Bulldogs, and I’m not sure if I just seen a Gladiatorial Arena, a boxing match or the most flagrent attempts at advertisiting ever witnessed by this sphere of Creation.
I just…I…what was that? There were aspects of it I enjoyed, sure. I liked how it seems to be a full contact sport, and I enjoyed the heavy rock and metal music they’d play at the slightest opportunity. I must admit whilst I felt rather distant for most of the game even I started to get drawn in towards the games conclusion, as the Marlies finally broke the 1-1 tie to pull ahead. It was the everything else I didn’t get.
First off, the constant fighting!
Now I appreciate that every sport has moments where the testosterone flares a bit too high, and everyone collectively loses their shit. However as far as I’m aware this is not exactly a common occurance in sports such as Football, Rugby, Baseball, etc etc. Apart from Millwall, because seriously, fuck Millwall.
But this game I just watched, which as I understand it wasn’t even a major league game (this is like, the league before the major league? like division 1 in football? Except division 1 doesn’t even exist anymore in football apparently so uh…fuckit.) had at least seven separate fights! At one point two opposing plays seemed to start a fight literally out of nowhere, just taking off their gloves and chucking them onto the ice, then gliding side by side in fighting stances like some kind of permanent-motion Street Fighter. They were throwing punches at each other over the refs shoulder! In another one, a player had the other pinned up against the wall and was pounding him in the face multiple times. And the crowd? Cheering them on! What the shit?!
Although I think the fights may have just been to add some catharsis to a game which is stopped literally every two minutes. Now I have seen on TV a couple of times American Football being played, and how they stop constantly for a tactics debate, advert break, or just because they fancy it. Likewise, when I saw the Toronto Blue Jays play baseball shortly after I arrived in Toronto, I was bemused by how much of the game involved people standing around missing the ball a hell of a lot, with twenty minute intermissions every ten minutes to try and sell you some piece of crap or another.
But surely Ice Hockey, supposedly one of the roughest, most tumbliest of sports this side of Aussie Rules Football won’t come across as a merchandising machine?
Advertising in and of itself isn’t a problem of course. I mean its kind of obnoxious and a reason why I miss the BBC so much, but it’s how the commercial world spins so what are you gonna do? What I’m talking about here is that in this match I just watched literally every two or three minutes, play would stop and they’d just start spamming adverts all over the place! booming over the tannoy with, by the way, the worst announcer ever. Her voice could make cats leap five feet into the air out of sheer surprise. Or we had some chatter SPONSERED BY BLAHBLAHBLAH or do this for DOODITYDOO and please come here and give us all your monies for WAKKAWAKKAWAKKA. I just, ugh, can’t I just watch the game? Please? Adverts in the half time break is one thing, but when the sport already has three half time breaks that are twenty minutes long anyway, do we need this crap going on during the actual game as well?
Well I’ve tried all the cornerstone sports over here now bar Basketball and Lacrosse, and I can’t say as I’ve been all that impressed by any of them. Hockey showed the most promise, during those fleeting moments when people wern’t either knocking seven hells out of each other or trying to sell me crap, but they’re all too…I dunno, whats the word I’m looking for here? In your face? Commercialised? Not enough actual sport? I’m not exactly a sporty guy, and I appreciate this may come as a shock to you for a seventeen stone guy to say that, but when I do take it upon myself to watch something sporty I wanna do just that! I don’t want it to be stopping constantly! I don’t want adverts in my face! I don’t want people with incredibly over the top American accents booming some irrelevant crap into my ear-drums at some sonic-boom rivalling volume! I just want…the sport!
Well at least New Zealands national sports are Cricket and Rugby, where stuff actually happens. Albeit with cricket, perhaps a touch slowly.