Fans cheer as the Montreal Canadiens are introduced before playing against the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
• So UFC impresario Dana White thinks his brand of entertainment is “more exciting than hockey,” does he?
If White means his mixed-martial arts fighters provide more of an adrenaline rush than does the NHL’s ham-fisted, dancing bear routines, I’ll give him that.
But more exciting than the actual game itself? More thrilling than the sport whose true essence drew astonishing TV ratings at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics?
Uh, sorry, Dana, but no.
First of all, say what you will about the intermittent tedium of the NHL’s 82-game regular season, but at least you know the time, emotion and money you invest each night will get you a guaranteed 150 minutes of action.
In contrast, fans in attendance at UFC matches often suffer from premature evacuation syndrome, what with many of the fights lasting five minutes or less.
More importantly, the NHL already has 93 years of history – and multiple generations of fans – to heighten the intrigue and emotional payoffs of games. Do you think more than two million people would gather in Chicago to throw a parade for Illinois native Miguel Torres (whoever that is) when he won a UFC championship?
Um, sorry, Dana, but no.
I’m not saying White’s operation can’t be a worthy rival to the NHL. The UFC’s braintrust understands the value of individual athlete marketing at least as well as hockey’s “Aw shucks, let’s talk about anybody else but me” establishment.
Nevertheless, White & Co. have thousands of cauliflower ears to go before they can hope to match the impact hockey has had on the globe.
• One of the aspects of this job I most appreciate is its inherent core subjectivity. On the downside, it means there are people who regularly misunderstand something I’ve written – if I wrote, “the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain” I’d quickly be accused of environmental bias against ordinary Spaniards – or folks who project their own neuroses and preconceived notions onto my work.
Whenever that happens, I feel like a balloon salesman who watches somebody blow one of his products up and twist it into an obscene balloon animal. But I’ve never felt the need to correct anybody on their interpretation of my stuff; my main duty as a columnist is to engage a reader’s mind and heart – and whether they agree or disagree with me is immaterial to that end.
That’s why I tend to agree with artists who want to preserve some degree of separation between themselves and the people who follow their work; on some level, the less you know about where a lyric or a line came from, the easier it is to wrap it around your own life experience and take from it what you will.
I’m telling you this because I’ve been asked by the management types at THN to take the reins of our Twitter and Facebook feeds – conversing with users of those social media channels, answering the occasional inquiry, talking about a column or feature, flashing a little ankle, working on my jazz hands, etc.
And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t accepting the mission with a little hesitancy.
In part, that’s because I prefer sportswriting in long form. In part, it’s because I think a little time to ponder issues is worthwhile, as opposed to indulging the reactionary beast the Internet has become and going off with your gut every time the newswire belches or blinks.
Now, I can’t promise I’ll respond to every reader who reaches out; I’m not going to get bogged down in juvenile manhood-measuring matches with bitter one-finger typist types; and I certainly won’t promise I’ll be Twittering/Facebooking all day every day. Indeed, how will you miss me if I won’t go away?*
However, let no one say I’m unwilling to try new things.
So here’s hoping you find good food for thought at http://twitter.com/TheHockeyNews. And if you want to follow a Twitter account I’ve set up that will offer some of my non-hockey thoughts, you’re welcome to go to http://twitter.com/Proteautype and join the select few who’ve already found me there.
(*Note: Rhetorical question requiring no email answers from you comedic geniuses out there.)
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appears regularly, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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