This article, first published on February 21, 2014 during the Sochi Winter Olympics exposes both the aim and the method of how the NHL, hand in hand with the sports media, began creating the conditions to justify launching its own private “World Cup of Hockey.”
The discourse runs like this: we poor owners have been victimized and our fans short-changed and held hostage by the Olympics, because “the best league in the world has been shut down” (Prime Time Sports, Rogers Sportsnet, February 18, 2014). “Just look at our empty buildings.” It is reminiscent of the old saw about the thief crying “stop thief!” | TONY SEED*
The NHL can only drool over the figures. The Canada-U.S. men’s hockey semifinal drew a television audience of more than 15 million for CBC. (Photo) Corey Perry of Canada tries a wraparound on Jonathan Quick of the USA as he is defended by Cam Fowler during first period action in the men’s hockey semifinal at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, February 21, 2014 | Jean Levac/Postmedia News
SEEMINGLY out of the blue, the National Hockey League (NHL) based in New York sent their fabled Stanley Cup trophy to Sochi. The media slavered when it made its appearance at Canada House on Monday, February 17th. The iconic silver trophy had seemingly fallen from the sky or appeared as if a gift from the gods of sport with a spiritual significance comparable to a burning bush.
In the media euphoria, Canadian Olympic members were organized to pose with the trophy and world champion figure skater Patrick Chan to bless it with a kiss.
Four-time Olympian skier Brian Stemmle, also a CBC analyst, denounced the maneouvre, rightly asking: “Why is the Stanley Cup at Canada House in Sochi? Other athletes don’t bring their trophies. Hate when hockey tries to overshadow other sports.” A new diversion began. Continue reading
Qatar’s Marko Bagaric from Bulgaria, left, tries to score past France’s Ludovic Fabregas during the men’s preliminary handball match between France and Qatar at the 2016 Summer Olympics on Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro | Ben Curtis/AP
By TONY SEED
August 10, updated August 19, 2016
Of the some 11,000 athletes competing in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, an unknown number are competing for medal-hungry countries that are not their birth nation. At least 23 of Qatar’s 39 member team at Rio were born outside of Qatar and transplanted – recruited in many cases with the offer of financial inducements. The Canadian Olympic team also features a number of plastic or transfer athletes recruited through the “Own The Podium” program of private big capital for support and funding on the basis that they are “winners” and “America’s best who happen to have some kind of Canadian connection.” Such developments, all in the name of high ideals, should be of concern to Canadians.
Olympic action accounted for just 24.4 per cent of NBC’s primetime and late-Night broadcasts on Tuesday, February 11, according to a study by The Wall Street Journal, less than breaks in the Olympic action (26.8 per cent ) and almost 22 minutes less than commercials (per cent ). A similar Journal analysis from 2010 found that Olympic action made up 25.5 per cent of a Vancouver Games broadcast. “But NBC pays billions of dollars for Olympic broadcast rights because of what happens between the Games: commercials. In fact, some of the most prominent advertisements were for NBC…”
Campus of the Olympic University in Sochi | © RIA Novosti. Mikhail Mokrushin
SOCHI, February 20 (Alexey Eremenko, RIA Novosti) – THE 15-story glass tower that houses the Olympic University in Sochi has the eerie vibe of a high-budget pandemic thriller: immaculately clean and completely deserted.
Normal life should resume when students return from the Olympic venues where they are interning. But their numbers will still average about two people per floor. Continue reading
Mike Babcock’s rant: “And the other thing that happens for the NHL player, and probably for you in the media, is the respect you have for the opposition.” Welcome to the G-20 Winter Games and the Harper agenda for a “new patriotism.” | TONY SEED*
Revised on February 23, 2014
CANADIANS are passionate about their hockey and many other sports. Of course Canadians are rooting for their team and their athletes.
But what is taking place at the Sochi Winter Olympics is something quite different. A salient feature of the reporting and broadcasting of the hockey competition is that it is characterized by strident themes of great nation superiority and the domination by two countries, Canada and the USA. The principle that relations in sport be based on the relations of equality of nations, big and small or the principle that every nation is as equally as important as the next nation means nothing to these big nation Anglo-American chauvinists, let alone the principle of friendship between peoples and their athletes. Continue reading
Medal count per capita shows a dramatically different result than the gold medal count being slavered over by the chauvinist media (as of February 18 at 1 p.m.):
Medal count per GDP also shows a dramatically different result than the medal count being featured by the media: Continue reading
What is the real match, the real contest here? Is the Olympic spirit manifested in Sochi or is it something relegated to the distant past? The whole pragmatic, unprincipled “winning is everything” approach embodied by the “Own the Podium” program of the Harper government and the corporate monopoly sponsors of the Canadian Olympic Committee is incompatible with the high ideals of sport and the modern spirit of friendship and mutual respect between peoples and their athletes. These ideals are manifested in some of the most indelible Olympic memories that have nothing to do with medals and victories. One of those moments happened a few days ago when a Swiss gold medalist waited at the finish line of a cross-country ski race for 28 minutes to shake hands with the skier from Peru who came in last, as pictured below.
Respect for one’s opponent in competition is a well-known norm and one of the high ideals of sportsmanship. This human-cntred ethos has been assaulted from all sides by commercialized, professional sport, with its basis in the fetish of capitalist competition. The big sports monopolies, such as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), stage the arena to promote blind, mind-numbing support for the “home team” as “our team.”
LA Galaxy David Beckham is covered in streamers handed out by management as he prepares to take a corner kick against Toronto FC during the first half of their quarter-final CONCACAF Champions League soccer match at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on March 7, 2012
Fans at the Air Canada Centre are organized to disrupt opposing players when they take foul shots, or incited to boo basketball or hockey players who have been either traded away by MLSE or signed with another franchise. The sports media sets the table with a “debate” as to why the athlete should be vilified. This hooligan behaviour is astounding. Continue reading