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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

OH (NO ) CANADA FOR THE CBC

Lets get one thing straight.  I love the CBC!  Always have and always will.  For an educator there is no better resource to use than CBC's excellent News in Review. There is also no better investigative show than The Fifth Estate and their documentaries are outstanding.  For an aspiring broadcaster and sports fan, the soundtrack of my youth was Hockey Night in Canada and iconic voices like Bob Cole, Ron MacLean, Jim Hughson, and Howie Meeker.  For amateur competition the signature voices of Don Wittman on Track and Field and Steve Armitage on Swimming.  That said, at times, you even have to give a little grief to the one you love.  So, CBC, I say with great trepidation, but with strength resolve, You Messed Up!  There, I said it.   


CBC dropped the ball on PanAm games coverage two days in a row.  The first such occasion was not showing the gold medal match between the United States and Canada in Men's Baseball.   Forget the bizarre ending that saw no less than three errors on the final play allowing the hometown Canadians escape with the gold medal.  You had a high profile sport, with traditional rivals.  You had to show that game live on the main network!  Too many story lines to ignore and live sports TV, in particular the PanAm's are all about story telling.   CBC got rapped on the hands by no less than great Canadian baseball superstar, arguably the best position player to come out of Canada in Larry Walker.  Larry went to Twitter to convey his displeasure that there was no live coverage. 


Lesson learned and we move on to the United States and Canada Gold Medal game in Women's Basketball.  Surely the network would not make the same mistake twice, Hold the phone there junior! They did it again! 

Again, a  high profile sport as Canada was going for its first gold medal in PanAm women's basketball AND Kia Nurse, the next great Canadian superstar was a feature performer.  CBC opted for other coverage, and even on Sportsnet who CBC farmed out some of their coverage to, had Men's Soccer and what turned out to be a lacklustre and meaningless game as Canada had already been eliminated from competition and sleepwalked their way through a 2-0 loss to Peru.    You could stream the basketball game, and I am sure many did, but there was a real opportunity to draw a huge audience to a game that turned out to be sports theatre at its finest.  Kia Nurse, 19 years old, and already a star at the University of Connecticut dropped 31 points, Canada won the gold medal and a raucous patriotic sold out crowd made for outstanding visuals.  It deserved to be on the main network.   It was not, and once again people took to social media to vent (myself included).  All Trevor Pilling, head of CBC sports could offer was the fact that the game would be replayed on the main network at 11:30pm.  That did not serve as a great alternative.  CBC has painted itself into a corner as well. As the Men's Basketball Tournament starts, Canada will field an outstanding entry that will include NBA stars Sim Bhullar, Anthony Bennett , Andrew Nicholson as well as budding star and Kentucky commit Jamal Murray.   Should Canada advance to a Gold Medal game, CBC should show a gold medal game on the main network.  If they do, they run the risk of favourable coverage to Men's sports, if they do not, they risk the ire of a basketball loving nature.  

By and large, CBC still does a great job covering international events such as these, and they do it on a budget that is a fraction of what it should be.  Blame old "hair in the fridge" Stephen Harper and the Conservatives for that as they have slashed and burned the budget on the CBC to the point cutbacks are norm rather than the exception.  A recent position paper suggested that CBC seek out its own revenue streams.  No surprise this paper was authored by a large PC contingent. CBC has had to be creative and cut programming while increasing its digital exposure in a country that still craves their programming on conventional TV as well as via online or streaming forums.  

 Basketball is on the rise in Canada.  Both National Team programs are starting to move in circles normally reserved for the World's elite.  TSN has grabbed the rights to Canada Basketball and their quest for Olympic qualification.   Canadian entry into the NBA and WNBA is increasing and two semi pro leagues and the NBA D League will try and establish fan bases all over Ontario. The national network should have recognized this and captured some of the rising tide of momentum. 

Yep, it was hard to take a shot at something that I love, but it had to happen.  Now its time to forgiveness, and if you'll excuse, me I've got some CBC News in Review and Fifth Estate to catch up on. 

Steve Clark- Steve is the play by play voice of the Niagara IceDogs and has called games for the Hamilton Bulldogs, as well as a number of university sports.  One of his fondest memories was calling Canada's Women's Basketball Team Olympic Qualification Tournament in 1996. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

THOUGHTS FROM A 43 YEAR OLD MAN

43 AND GOING STRONG!!! 
Happy birthday to me! Well, belated happy birthday to me as I marked my 43rd birthday in Detroit on Sunday thanks to a wonderful birthday gift from the most understanding wife on earth.  There I was 30 rows from home plate in Comerica Park rooting on the Blue Jays who were trying to salvage a game from the Tigers.  I will even ignore the slightly ulterior motive of my beautiful wife Larissa as she has been a huge Tigers fan for many, many years.  This has led to what I call the October ritual of becoming a temporary Tigers fan/band wagon jumper come playoff time as inevitably the Tigers qualify for the post season and just as inevitably the Blue Jays are mathematically eliminated by Labour Day.   This process, by the way, repeats itself around April with the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs.   The game itself was largely forgettable as the Blue Jays built a large lead and lurched their way towards a 10-5 W.  Maybe it was largely forgettable as at the precise time the Jays were laying waste to Justin Verlander with 6 runs in the 5th, I was trying mightily to digest a Coney Island Hot Dog and usher my four old onto the in-stadium merry go round.  All in good fun.

Detroit is clearly on the bounce back from a city that declared bankruptcy.  Comerica Park/ Ford Field , the casino and the Fox Theatre all create a vibrancy in the downtown area highlighted by Chris Chelios popular bar Chelli's which is across the street and has a huge patio party at ground level and on the rooftop.  That said , beneath all of the revitalization around the downtown core lies not a seedy underbelly, but more of an unfortunate bi-product of a city getting back on its feet. Not 10 seconds out of our cab we got approached by a guy claiming to be from the Shriner's, but really was a dude in a wheelchair looking for money, and then by some teenagers looking for a signature for something and also a small donation of some sort.  That sort of scrounging for dollars can be found in most major U.S. cities, but it was a little unnerving having that happen as we were trying to navigate our four year old towards Chelli's for a pre-game pop or two! That said, I'd go back again for sure, maybe leaving behind my daughter and enjoying a little of the Detroit nightlife, which at my age means a sports bar until 11:00pm!

OTHER THOUGHTS AND STUFF
The Halifax Rainmen of the now flailing NBL have declared bankruptcy and are looking for new owners.  The Rainmen have been stalwart members of the league and were the leagues best drawing card at one point.   Attendance and brand credibility have dwindled thanks to the Game 7 that never was versus Windsor as the team from Halifax refused to play in the championship deciding game citing safety concerns after a pregame shoot around dust up . The slew of fines and bans have not helped the cause.  Does Halifax keep its team?  Is there another Nova Scotia city capable of handling a team?  Time will tell. Right now the league has teams in Windsor, London, Niagara and Brampton and Halifax (for now) , PEI, Moncton and Saint John.  That is one unique geographical configuration.  Throw in the fact the Mississauaga Power are no more, ceding their spot in the league and welcoming Raptors905 and the NBA D-League into the Hershey Centre.  Butch Carter's CBL is expected to tip off in the late fall with teams in Waterloo, Hamilton, Scarborough and Ottawa.  If you are keeping score, in Southern Ontario/GTA you have options in the CBL, NBL, NBA D-League as well as the OUA, OCAA.  That is five different basketball options potentially, which is either good news or a disaster waiting to happen as these leagues fight for fans and a foothold in the market.   

TSN HAMILTON 1150
Very excited to see an all sports network come to Hamilton.  Can the Steel City support all sports?   You've got a population of over 700 000 to draw from up and down the Golden Horseshoe which is where this station will be looking as it would be a wise move to distance itself from the GTA sports talk audience.   Who knows, maybe there will be a spot for me, depending on what sports they plan on covering.  They've got McMaster U, the Tiger Cats, the Bulldogs (though the rights holders are 900 CHML) and a potential pro basketball team in  Hamilton (see above).  That's a lot of sports, but also a lot of time to fill. Good luck to them. With the TSN brand behind them and a vast city of sports and personalities to cover, there should be no shortage of good content!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

CROSSROADS: ON BROADCASTING AND PERSONAL STRUGGLES

Image result for cross roadsImage result for sports broadcastingImage result for Stephen Clark Sports Broadcaster

I realize that I have been blogging a lot about my other career (teaching), when this blog is entitled "Thoughts From the Broadcast Booth"  This means that I am supposed to be talking about sporting issues of the day.  The IceDogs are well into their off season, so there is little to report on there, save for the improved health of Coach/GM Marty Williamson (get well soon Marty!).  The Bulldogs of the AHL are Newfoundland bound and there is very little news on the Bulldogs of the OHL, except for the hiring of Hamilton native Troy Smith as an associate coach.  I always like when good things happen to Troy as I worked with his mom one summer and Troy and his brothers were regulars at MacNab Recreation Centre's swimming pool.   That pretty much covers off sporting news, because I really do not think people care about what I think of the hiring of Mike Babcock as Leafs coach.  I will say that my wife has a crush on the craggy looking coach, and is a huge Red Wings fan.  She is none to pleased at his departure.  The Jays? Next. The Argo's at BMO?  Don't get me started, as I thought it was supposed to be the national soccer stadium.  The rest of the equation?  A rambling, stream of consciousness.  Putting things on paper helps me work out things percolating  in my mind.  It also has the risk of taking on a maudlin, woe is me tone, so I will try and avoid that, if I can.  

You know what, I could go on and on about how I am at a crossroads in my teacher career, but I will not go there. You have read enough about teachers, teaching and labour disputes to fill a novel.  Safe to say these are difficult times in the profession, and the last time there was such labour turmoil, or disruption it was during the Mike Harris years and a number of people left the profession in droves, and new grads, like myself, were ushered in.  Who knows?  That might be my fate too, but as teaching pays the mortgage, unlikely that's happening anytime soon,

This one is about crossroads in broadcasting.  I seem to write a "crossroads in broadcasting" blog once every year it seems, and I know it drives some people nuts when I talk about it.  This one is a little different.  I have no intention of leaving broadcasting anytime soon, though I will be cutting back a lot on account of my daughter getting involved in a lot more activities that I want to be a part of.  I love broadcasting, and still love the rush of a live game, the thrill of play by play and live TV, and the people I work with.  No issues there at all! The real question is whether or not broadcasting loves me.  While you are working with a team of people, broadcasting can be something of a lonely call in life.   I am not on the road like many full time broadcasters, enduring long bus rides, or the luxury of plane travel and long road trips (not sure you "endure" that). I drive to the game alone, do my thing, and then drive home.  This is the fall/winter/early spring routine 1-3 x a week, on top of a full-time job.  Getting compliments and being on live TV is awesome, don't get me wrong, and I get the best seat in the house.  Personal fulfillment has eluded me.  That is more of a personality/character thing with me.  Getting compliments is nice, but I do not fully believe them.  That's just me, and I'm wired to believe the glass is half-empty. It's something I need to work on, but I am also fighting 42 years of cynacism, and yes I was very cynical even as a baby.  I also do not get the perks that others get.  I would love to go to the Memorial Cup or the NHL Draft as a media member, but there is no invitation for me.  That is reserved for a chosen few.    At the end of the season, I am left with an empty feeling, that there could have been more.  Again, I know no one is going to feel sorry for me, considering broadcasting is a gig that a lot of people would love to do, and I know that my job would be filled in a nano second, should I chose to leave the booth.   

Recently I applied for two jobs. One was to be the play by play announcer for TV and the radio for the Dallas Stars, and the other one was as an sports anchor with Global News in Toronto.   Now, I 've been told by some in the industry that I have an NHL calibre voice,, in that I have the chops the elite level,  but opportunity is so rare, that just having the voice does not guarantee that you will get to that level.  I interviewed last year for the Calgary Flames radio experience, and felt like I had an excellent interview, just not a knock it out of the park interview. At that level, you have got to really rise above and beyond expectations because many apply, and only so many get even a sniff at an interview.  I met expectations, but did not rise above those expectations.   I did take a lot from that interview and set the bar pretty high for future interviews, and opportunities.  At this point, anything short of getting an interview for me is falling short of expectations.   Now, its good to have expectations, but maybe not so good to set them so high in an extremely competitive industry because you can get constantly disappointed and that can wear on you. I refer you to the aforementioned comments about my cynical personality and glass half-empty attitude.

With the Stars application, I worked hard to put together a solid demo, following the advice of picking your best and most recent stuff.  I tirelessly found good clips, tried to show variety, tried to show my personality and then edited it all together myself.   I even got ahead of the curve when it came applying by jumping the queue and getting my name in as soon as it was learned Ralph Strangis, the incumbent play by play man had left.   I received acknowledgement and a promise to look at my demo from both the Broadcast Producer and the CEO.  I felt I had at least positioned things well. I utilized a contact whom I knew in the Dallas area to help leverage the situation and also put together a very solid list of references.    After the initial response, contact stopped.  Email enquiries, and requests for phone conversations went unanswered, and it was learned that the Stars were looking at, and negotiating with a national broadcaster.  The fact it was a national broadcaster did not bother me.  Gotta look for the best guy, with the biggest profile sometimes, especially in a vibrant market like Dallas.  What bothered me was how quickly I may have been dispatched from the process.  Had my demo not resonated?   Had I somehow missed something when putting it together and the demo was not truly represenatative of NHL calibre broadcasting.  Who know?  This is where the crossroads part comes in.  The jump from OHL/AHL to NHL is massive when it comes to broadcasting.  There are only approximately 60 positions available at the NHL level, with either a team or the network level.  Supply exceeds demand exponentially! 

The very real question that I do not want to ask, but will force myself to ask is whether or not this is the end game.   Will I ever bridge that massive gap between OHL/AHL to the NHL considering right now I only do it part time?   Like any athlete forced to hang them up , or accept that they are not at the top of their game, this is a very real question many broadcasters like myself are forced to confront.

UPDATE:   CAN REPORT THAT I DID HAVE A VERY POSITIVE CONVERSATION WITH SOMEONE IN BROADAST PRODUCTION FROM DALLAS, AND CAME AWAY FEELING MUCH BETTER ABOUT MY PLAY BY PLAY CRAFT AND DESIRES TO GET TO THE NEXT LEVEL.  THE STARS ARE A CLASSY ORGANIZATION FOR REACHING OUT AND COMMUNICATING THE WAY THAT THEY DID. 

The other job I applied for really gave me pause for thought.  Now, I know that I am not trained, or much of my experience comes in terms of being a sports anchor. Live play by play is different from being an anchor.  Play by play is fluid and much of the on camera stuff is framed by guidelines and improvised.  Being an anchor means being more poised, articulate and smooth within severe time constraints.  It is a different skill-set all together, though I feel one complements the other. I applied on the Shaw Media website online in the afternoon and got the rejection letter the very same evening!  That was swift, decisive and led me to believe that my resume had not resonated on any level, even to the system that picks out key words and either keeps you or eliminates you.  I highly doubt my CV got seen my human eyes.   That knocked me for a loop, and even though  I joked about not even getting my "days of false hope", that one actually stung a little bit.  That said, a lot of resumes have to go through automated eyes, and my resume and cover letter did not resonate enough or include the key adjectives they are looking for.  I am sure that the company is going to get a savvy, solid well-respected Sports Anchor.  

To conclude, two job openings, two applications, one positive conversation and one very swift , and apparently decisive rejection. It makes me think as to whether to turn to other forms of broadcasting.  Maybe radio is my thing, though I do not have the chops or the experience for sports talk radio, even though I think teaching translates well to the medium.  Maybe I need to think of channelling my interest in law into something unique, or to return to creating and hosting a TV show.  I guess the good news is that the creative mind still is very alert, and thinking of new and hopefully innovative forms of what to do with my broadcasting career.  The downside is a true crossroads.  I am 42 years old, soon to turn 43 and sports broadcasting has started to become a younger mans game.  I cannot think of too many people who a) broke into the NHL level from a freelance, part-time, community channel approach or b) at my age.   It gives you pause for thought and that is why my crossroads come into play.  Is it time to calibrate my expectations and enjoy the ride that broadcast gives me, or is time to calibrate those expectations and switch gears into another form of broadcasting.  Questions, questions, questions but no epiphany here, at least right now.  

Hope I haven't wallowed too much.  
Until next time, or the next chapter!
Steve Clark

Monday, June 1, 2015

ON SPORTS MEDIA AND STUFF

MARTY WILLIAMSON: 
Image for the news result
A little IceDogs business to take care of before we get to the heart of the blog today.  There was a buzz around IceDogs rookie camp on Saturday and it was unrelated to the fine talent assembled.  Coach/GM Marty Williamson made a surprise appearance at the camp after some well documented and very serious health concerns.  Marty was recently in the ICU after some complications around his recent heart surgery.  Reading about him being out of ICU and making even the briefest appearance was outstanding to see.  Now, get home and rest up Marty!  There's no timetable for your return, so you better follow doctors orders!   Seriously, lets hope he is on the road to recovery.  His surgery sounded like it was not unlike what my dad almost 8 years ago, and it did take him quite a while to recover.  The curmudgeonliness of Clark sr. came back right away, the physical effects took a little while to fix. With the CHL season finishing when Oshawa won the Master Card Memorial Cup, the next order of business will be the releasing of the league schedule which normally comes out mid to late June.   It will be a schedule of interest this year as new teams Hamilton and Flint will be part of the loop, ironic as Hamilton and Flint have long competed annually in the CANUSA Games.   Smart marketing would dictate the two teams tying in the CANUSA Games to the games that they play.  

Bill Potrecz of the St Catherines Standard writes about Marty HERE

NIAGARA RIVER LIONS NBLC
River Lions ready to build winning team for Niagara

It was announced that last Thursday the newest basketball team in the NBLC would be called the River Lions and the new Coach and GM would be long time Niagara Region familiar face Ken Murray.  Murray helmed the Brock Badgers for well over twenty years, winning two CIS Championships during that stretch which is mighty impressive considering Brock is a small school.  The last one in 2008 was especially sweet considering his son Scott played on the team.  The new coach/gm comes out of retirement to embrace the challenge of the newest team in the NCBL.   Filling the wonderful Meridian Centre will be one challenge for the new team.  Another one will come on the heels of Butch Carter's rival league which will set up shop in Ottawa, Scarborough, Kitchener-Waterloo and Hamilton.  The concerns are not necessarily geographical in terms of stealing basketball fans, but there will be competition for sponsorship dollars and media coverage.  The NBLC is trying to right the ship and build credibility after their latest season ended with Windsor winning the championship by forfeit over Halifax who no showed game 7 in Windsor sighting safety concerns after a morning dust up during pre game shootaround.  To tell the whole story on this would take pages, and pages.  The NBLC is trying to turn the corner and the first steps were adding Niagara to the league and installing former Brampton boss David Magley as the new Commissioner. 

BULLET NEWS NIAGARA WRITES ABOUT THE RIVER LIONS : HERE

TSN RADIO HAMILTON!
Image result for tsn radio hamilton

Sports media enthusiasts and/or nerds ( I qualify as both by the way) take note ! There will be a new all-sports radio station and it will be in Hamilton.  TSN branded radio will take over the dials previously held for a long time by 1150 CKOC, so unfortunately those who crave their oldies will have to look elsewhere.    This is big news for Hamilton as it adds something of a competitor to the venerable 900 CHML, though CHML does mostly current events shows, and some live sports.   The bigger news is that the Hamilton Tiger Cats will move from 900 CHML to 1150 as the new station looks to build in some anchor programming.    How much local /new talent needed remains to be seen as TSN Radio can simulcast some of their key programming.     Hamilton, I've always felt is a fiercely proud local market who wears their Hamilton colours with pride.   If I am TSN Radio,  I make sure that the local presence is very strong and anything simulcasted is carefully picked.  The listening market, to me, for this station stretches along the Golden Horsehoe to the Niagara Region as much as the GTA region, so there is a wide range of listenership in the area.  Other key sports properties right now are McMaster Football and Hamilton Bulldogs hockey, both with 900 CHML.No idea what the contract status of either one of those is at this time.  Butch Carter's CBL has four franchises signed up for the 2015 season, one of  which is in Hamilton, and you have to wonder if he will seek out the new station for some media coverage.  McMaster Basketball could also be another viable sports property that already draws decently on local cable channel Cable 14. Right now the Leafs and Raptors game that are not on The Fan 590 will be on TSN Radio , and that includes the Hamilton market.   The launch is expected to be for the Fall, so there should be lots of announcements over the summer. 

THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR HAS AN ARTICLE ABOUT TSN 1150:  HERE

THE OFFICIAL MEDIA RELEASE IS : HERE 

By the way, if the new station needs someone who knows their hockey, basketball, football, soccer and pro wrestling (maybe I should leave that part out), I'm available.  

Steve Clark


Friday, May 8, 2015

In Defence of the Classroom Teacher

I am going to attempt the impossible.   I am going to try and write some meaningful prose on something positive about teachers.   Positivity about the teaching is severely lacking in the rhetoric surrounding labour action and education.  I am going to try and do it without undermining anything in education. So,  there will be nothing inflammatory about the government, education minister, boards of education and the union.   Maybe I should stop right now, or leave the rest of the page blank and have it be the ironic joke?   Or, you know, I can attempt to say something positive about something without resorting to cheap rhetoric.   Lets try that and see where it takes us. 

The sad thing is that there is not too much positive press in the media today.    Right now a lot of teachers or people in education are sharing a wonderful essay written by CBC News Anchor Peter Mansbridge in support of teachers.  While the essay is beautifully crafted and filled with a plethora of positivity, it was also written back in 2013.  Do teachers really have to find an article from two years ago to use as one of their rallying points?  


I'd say that teacher articles whether they are from the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, National Post or the Toronto Sun for the most part are very critical of teachers and the teaching profession.  I particularly love the ones that spend 3/4 of the article criticizing the profession and then have a disingenuous line saying that most of the teachers they know are wonderful.  You know what?  The throwaway line is not enough to erase the previous part of the article where you essentially tore the profession a new one.  Comment sections run about 80% negative, on average, with the only positive, supportive ones coming from teachers with the odd parent thrown in there.   

I am not going to get into stuff like the hardworking teacher burning the candle at both ends and marking/evaluating late into the night, because I know a lot of people do jobs that require them to work long hours, so no pity parties here!  I've said before and I will say it again, those teachers who start the conversation with their own personal itinerary of their long day only serve themselves and really want to promote themselves.  I look at teachers as people who should quietly go about their business without a lot of fanfare of credit whether it is running a club, field trip, charity event, sports team, school dance etc.    No credit needed.  The satisfaction of making the school a better place and community should be enough.  There are a ton of teachers, by the way, who do this.    

Here is the deal, and here has what has been lost when it comes to education.   Like many of  those in other professions, we get up in the morning with our family and get them ready for the day, be it at school or work.  We eat our breakfast, drive to our workplace, prepare for our day, be the best we can be for that day, and then go home at the end of the day.  We get our kids ready for soccer, hockey, baseball games, dance lessons, swim lessons.  We cheer them on, or we help coach the team.  We kiss our kids or our spouses, or our pets goodnight and we get ready to do it all again the next day.  Sound familiar?  That pretty well covers a lot of people's work day.  Really, teachers are no different from any other profession when it comes down to it.   We also have social circles, engage in social media and read the newspapers, and watch the TV.   We get hurt by the constant negativity and bashing of the profession.  We get frustrated by what is simply untrue,  We get frustrated when people underestimate the profession.  We look in dismay as much of this goes undefended, including by those who should be defending us.   Right now there are those in our profession who are standing on the picket lines, and I feel terrible that they are out there taking the slings and arrows for the rest of us.  I hope that people are giving you support, and that you stay strong.  

I think that there are a couple of reasons for the negativity of some towards teachers.   Everyone went to school, and everyone had THAT teacher , the one who was not up to the challenge, did not seem to care about the students and seem to hit the back door when the bell goes.  That one teacher gets personified and blown to represent the whole system. I get it and I will never forget Ms Petaharych for throwing away my admittedly crude clay pot into the garbage in front of the whole class when I was in Grade 7.   That was over 30 years ago and I will never, ever forget it.   That , however, does not mean that all my teachers were like this vile woman.  Teaching is like all professions in that there are always those who do not carry the load or work to their full capability.  That is not an indictment of the profession, that's life!  Look at your own personal work place.  You know who is, or who is not pulling their weight.  Sure you do.  Doesn't mean your whole workplace is painted with the brush of this person though.   

The second reason for teacher bashing, negativity is the mass media.  I cannot think of too many movies, television shows that picture the profession in a positive light.   Was it Pink Floyd's "Brick in the Wall" that started this? (Great, great song by the way).   Remember Degrassi Jr High/Degrassi High?   Teachers were portrayed ok, but certainly not great.  Didn't take long for the creepy fondling supply teacher who take the forefront in a major storyline.  How about Boston Public?   The show that was supposed to celebrate the teaching profession.  Story lines included the teacher sleeping with the student, a racist teacher who should have retired, a teacher with mental illness and on, and on.  Celebrating the profession?  Hardily.   Saved by the Bell?   Next!  90210?   More allegations of teacher/student relationships and an attempt to portray a "cool teacher" (He had a beard, and was young, so he must have been cool).   Mr D?   A parody/send up of the profession.  Glee?   Oh brother. Has it really come to this?    Sure there was the odd Mr Hollands Opus, but for the most stereotypical views of the profession have been portrayed.   

In the end, there are a lot of people doing a lot of good work, who do not want to promote their own agenda and how much they do to keep the students engaged inside and outside of the classroom.   Overall, we are just like you.   Think about that the next time you have a large social gathering, or even Facebook conversation.     I do not criticize your profession. I do not bash small business owners, customer service, accountants, lawyers etc.  Please do not criticise my profession.  I am proud to be a teacher, and should not have to flinch or brace myself every time I say that I am one.    

Friday, May 1, 2015

NBLC Just Can't Help Itself

Image for the news result
So many clever phrases, euphemisms and metaphors could be used.  In the end it came down to " death by a thousand paper cuts" or "self-inflicted wounds" .  For the purposes of clarity and having it fit the narrative, "self inflicted wounds" wins out.  

The NBLC just can't seem to avoid self inflicted wounds (see how that worked out! ).  Already  a league on shaky ground financially and in terms of publicity and marketing, there seemed to be the beginnings of stability, and even expansion as Niagara had joined the league.  They may have undone all of the good will they have built with the farce that surrounded Game 7 of the championship series between Windsor and Halifax.  When you think "Game 7" , stirring words such as "going for broke" "winner takes all" "intense" "gritty" are ones that come to mind, the word "farce" should not.    The fact that the Game was not played would not be in the realm of possibility would it?   Sadly, that is exactly what happened.   The actions that led to the Halifax Rainmen hitting the highway instead of their free throws are beyond comprehension and explanation.  In fact I cannot bring myself to type out the details.  Fortunately there are those that did, and the details are here:   

Morris DallaCosta London Free Press:   NBLC "black eye"

Bob Duff:  Windsor Star Another Black Eye...

Neate Sagar Yahoo Sports Game 7 Cancelled


Monty Mosher Halifax Chronicle Herald:  Rainmen /Express Brawl

Suffice to say that having a team fear for their safety (and I bet there's even more to the incredulous account reported in the newspapers) to the point of not playing in a Game 7 for all the marbles is a tremendous cause for concern and may add the final nail to the Halifax Rainmen coffin as they had not been faring too well in Halifax.   Reporters like Monty Mosher and Morris DallaCosta are very good reporters who have brought tremendous credibility and honesty to the league.  Their words should be measured very carefully in terms of how credible the league is.  

Sad thing is that I was looking forward to having the Niagara franchise in the league and even hoped to call a game or two should any be televised.The owners seemed to genuinely thrilled to be bringing pro basketball to the region and had set up a naming contest for the team, and would play out of the beautiful Meridian Centre.  They were in Windsor and got a first hand look at what they invested their hard earned money in.  I cannot imagine that they are too thrilled with this turn of events.   

In the midst of this Butch Carter continues on his own path of getting a professional league for Canada. The CBL hopes to start up this fall, and while the league's franchises have not been officially named yet, there is a TV deal with CHCH ready to go.  For those who truly are invested in seeing professional basketball in Canada, Butch Carter maybe its best and only hope.   


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

OHL PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS, AND OTHER ASSORTED THOUGHTS

So much to talk about over the past couple of weeks.  Honestly, if I put hands to keyboard on some of the percolating things, I would have something reminiscent to Homer's Odyssey, if Homer had a blog and used random, funny to only a few dated pop culture references.   Brevity is the soul of wit, so I will try and touch on a couple of issues after delving into OHL playoff predictions, the main reason for this blog. 

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
So happy that the regular season is over.  I loathe those in the media who play the "If the season ended today, this would be the playoff match up"   It is irrelevant while the season goes on.  Now we know the playoff match ups, lets have at it! 

EASTERN CONFERENCE
ICEDOGS OVER OTTAWA IN 6 . I like Ottawa, I really do.  The IceDogs 2nd half juggernaut is too tough to resist and they can get scoring from three lines and at least four defensemen.  Ottawa is not quite as explosive but has some dependable players, and great coaching.   I will say though, if this goes 7, I'm not as much of a fan of the IceDogs on the road....

OSHAWA OVER PETERBOROUGH IN 6
I said on the air that this series reminded me of the battle that the 8th seeded Oshawa team that gave the 1st seeded IceDogs team fits a few years back.  Oshawa is the runaway favourite, but Peterborough has some vets who underperformed, but formed the large part of the core that came back against Kingston last year

BARRIE OVER BELLEVILLE in 5
One nostalgia victory for the Bulls at the soon to be vacated Yardman Arena, but Belleville has been trending downwards for the better part of the 2nd half.  Barrie has the ability to beat themselves with undisciplined play, but not in this series. 

NORTH BAY OVER KINGSTON IN 7
This represents a flip on what I said on air a week ago.  That is how close this one will be.  Sam Bennett X factor aside, North Bay has enough depth and home ice advantage for a game 7 to squeak this one out. 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
SOO OVER SAGINAW IN 4
Saginaw just squeaked in.  Soo is a juggernaut.  This one should be over quickly. 

ERIE OVER SARNIA IN 4
Well, at least the Sting will get two home dates with Connor McDavid in town.   Sarnia is a team with a lot of talent, but has been uneven this year.   Erie's young team has come together wonderfully. 

LONDON OVER KITCHENER IN 6
Two awfully inconsistent teams.  Both have looked terrible at times this year, and traded off significant assets.  I will take Domi, Marner and Dvorak, even though goaltending has been spotty . 

OWEN SOUND OVER GUELPH in 6
Some of these Guelph holdovers have played an awful lot of hockey over the past couple of years, plus they will not have Zack Leslie.  Owen Sound, on the whole, has been more consistent than Guelph.  

BULLDOGS AHL --OUT.   BULLDOGS-OHL IN. 
Honestly, even after a couple of weeks, including a week in sunny Florida I have not been able to fully wrap my head around this one.  While it was not an Art Modell, moving trucks in the middle of the night approach to shifting franchises, it was awfully sudden and out of blue.  One thing I will say is that I feel for the community of Belleville.  I have friends there, and have been there quite a few times.   Attendance had dwindled, but that city lost a centrepiece to its core.  As for Hamilton and the OHL, those predicting doom and gloom should realize that this is not the Hamilton Dukes.  That was 25 years ago.  New owners.  New era.  Lets see what transpires.   It is a real shame that the Bulldogs do not get to commemorate 20 years of AHL hockey next year in Hamilton.  I think that would have been a lot of fun with a twist of nostalgia.   

There, that is out of the way.  Likely will have more thoughts, as things get crystallized as the spring and summer approach. 

LEAF TANK NATION
 I'm just sickened by the constant references to "Tank Nation" and the goal of the Leafs drafting very high as they lurch and stumble their way down the stretch.  Fans are tuning out (I don't blame them), but others, including Leaf fans, are revelling in the piling up losses because it gets them closer to Connor McDavid.   I'm wired to cheer for the success and winning of a team, regardless of how it impacts their draft status.  That's why I have been so impressed with Leafs reporter Paul Hendrick.  He blocks out the negativity and turmoil of the team and focuses on what is happening on the ice, and telling those stories.  He does not ignore the turmoil, but instead chooses to rise above it.  That's a true pro.  Selfishly, I hope that the team gets Dylan Strome in the draft (if they don't hit the draft lottery jackpot).   Man, what a talent.  Great bloodlines with brother Ryan on the Islanders, and yep, there is another Strome gaining notoriety.  Matty Strome, who scored the GWG  in OT in the OHL Cup is tagged to be a first round pick in the OHL draft.  He's the captain of his Toronto Marlboro's. Future IceDog anyone?   That would be nice

Thats all for now.