There’s a lot in life to be angry about: taxes, traffic jams, when the college kids next door throw beer cans and cigarette butts over a 6-foot fence into your backyard, stuff like that. So in the grand scheme of things, does missing the first period of a preliminary Olympic ice hockey game matter? Clearly it doesn’t, but it also doesn’t mean that hockey fans aren’t entitled to complain when the beginning of a game isn’t aired because a curling match has gone into extra ends. It’s true, there’s never going to be a second chance to watch the first 20 minutes of Sweden vs. Germany…until Sochi, of course. And it’s a real shame that technology hasn’t advanced to the point where we can see game highlights on YouTube five minutes after they happen.
There are a lot of valid complaints against NBC regarding their coverage of all the sports, but I’m not sure “curling shouldn’t cut into hockey!” is one of them. Should it go the other way, I’m sure hockey fans would be infuriated over NBC switching from overtime or a shootout because a curling match has started. I know it’s different because the NHL has players spread over the majority of the national teams and hockey fans naturally want to catch their favorites. I know most people want to catch all Russia’s games, all Canada’s games, and all USA’s games because that’s where the big stars are. But somewhere out there, a curling fan is doing the same and I don’t think it’s particularly fair to try and elevate the importance of one sport over another.
I swear, hockey fans can be so ridiculously whiny. I am allowed to say this because I’m a hockey fan and I am really, really good at whining so I do my fair share. I’ll go so far as to say I’ve never hear a more complainitory crowd. I think hockey fans think the world is against them. NBC screws us over, DirectTV screws us over, we’re forced to deal with Mike Milbury on a daily basis, trapezoid this, shootout that, and I’m sure there’s an argument to be made that the NHL screws itself over just to act victimized. Of course I want hockey coverage to be on par with that of football and baseball but it becomes a circular argument. For hockey to grow in popularity, there must be more access to games. But in order to make broadcasting games worthwhile to stations and advertisers, hockey has to grow in popularity. And it will in time, I honestly believe that. But to use that argument as a starting ground to launch a huge protest regarding NBC’s hatred of hockey is just funny. The Olympic coverage of hockey thus far is not great, and the feelings hockey fans have about that mirrors those which they have for the media’s coverage of hockey in general. However, I think a few deep breaths are in order. If you’re so inclined, by all means write e-mails, Tweets, angry Facebook messages, whatever, to NBC–it’s your right as a viewer and a privilege we are lucky to have in this country. But think for a second before you combine the issues. There is no worldwide plot against hockey and hockey fans; sometimes things just aren’t fair, but it’s not isolated to this sport. Think of the poor curling fans. Do they have a dedicated cable tv channel where they can watch “Curling On The Fly” three times in a row on Saturday mornings? Can you buy a Shuster jersey? Can you wait outside of curling practice one day, hoping for a curler to sign the souvenir stone you caught? So let’s calm down and let the curlers have their moments, the way we’d like to have ours.
PS: I know “complainitory” is not a real word.
PPS: The joke about catching a curling stone is funny because those things are like, 40 pounds.