Hockey Talkie: Boogaard, Roenick vs Marleau, Uptown Sports/Todd Reynolds vs Sean Avery, and Some Thoughts On Free Speech.
Wow, lotta action in the hockey world lately….
Firstly, Derek Boogaard. I hope not to say anything inflammatory on this issue, because I really do think it’s quite a tragedy that he has died at the age of 28. The guy was a world-class athlete who had to be in that kind of shape to play in the best hockey league in the world. Every tweet and every interview comment I’ve heard from other players was about how great of a guy he was. So all that said (and respect to all of it), why did this guy die before the age of 30? I heard on a TV report that he had been partaking in the NHL’s substance abuse program, which may answer some questions. Bob Probert, another league toughguy, was known to have a drug problem, and also the donation of his brain to science after his death revealed significant brain damage as a result of a career full of taking fists to his skull. Boogaard was 70 NHL fights deep himself, and will also, reportedly, have his brain examined; it’ll be interesting to see what is revealed as a result. Whether his death was a result of a drug overdose, brain damage, enlarged heart, or somehow natural causes, it’s an absolute shame that someone so young (my age, actually) is no longer around, especially someone that no one has a bad thing to say about.
Secondly, Jeremy Roenick vs Patrick Marleau. I love JR’s outspoken persona, and his fearless attitude to call it “as it is”, or at least, as he sees it. Frankly, it’s good for TV. He tore into Marleau for having zero points, and for playing gutless, earlier on in the San Jose/Detroit series. Marleau shrugged it off, and then scored the series winning goal in game 7, subtlely jamming those comments right down Roenick’s throat (non-confrontationally, of course). Though Roenick wouldn’t stray from his original opinion, he tried to skew it into some twisted form of inspiration that was meant to motivate Marleau on to offensive contribution. Well whatever it was, it worked; but I doubt Jeremy was as happy about it as he attempted to let on. At least it made for some good TV drama. Is it an easy for you to tell when the NHL tries to sell the game to Americans as it is for me?
And further on the right to one’s opinion….
Thirdly, Todd Reynolds, Vice President of Uptown Sports, an agency representing 11 NHL players. On May 9th, he tweeted, “Very sad to read Sean Avery’s misguided support of same-gender “marriage”. Legal or not, it will always be wrong.” , after Sean Avery publicly supported gay marriage, and any gay hockey player in the NHL who had yet to make his sexual orientation public knowledge. Immediately the media and public backlash painted Todd as a hateful, intolerant bigot; amongst other things.
I honestly don’t have much of a problem with any of this. Here’s why: we live in a democratic society, gifted with the right to free speech. Mr. Reynolds has an opinion, and he spoke it in a public forum. By the same token, he should be prepared to receive free speech criticism in return, no matter how uneducated and inaccurate those opinions may be. Todd believes same-sex marriage is wrong – so what? That’s his opinion, based on his belief system, which he has every right to. It’s not like he just passed a law, he just said what he believes; which is something many people are too afraid to do. People can disagree with what he said all they want, but calling him hateful seems a bit of a stretch; not to mention, attention-starved. Reynolds also tweeted later, “… I believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. This is my personal viewpoint. I Do not hate anyone.” I don’t see why it has to go any further than that. The fact is, everyone that expressed their disagreement of Todd Reynolds’ opinion, just did exactly what he did: speak their opinion. Should they all be judged for it too?
I know another staff member at Uptown Sports whom I know is a Christian, and I don’t think it’s a leap to assume Reynolds is too; nor that they believe in the Biblical definition of marriage. The gay-marriage topic has been a “hot-button” issue for some time now, and it seems the assumed opinion of Christians (that only men and women should marry), or really, anyone opposed to gay-marriage, is increasingly more and more wrong according to the general populous, and that people who share that opinion are archaic and need to be corrected (in a less polite fashion). I am a Christian myself. I know one gay guy and girl, and they’re great people that I have no problem with. Their lifestyle is not for me (whether they chose it, or were born that way), but I respect that it is theirs and not mine. To be honest, I don’t know where I stand on the marriage issue, but I do know that people should be more concerned about who people are in character rather than what they’re labelled as before telling them what the correct way to live their lives is. I’ve met black people, Asian people, gay people, disabled people, white people, women, Muslims, Americans, and a lot of other people that have been labelled into minority groups. The fact is that some of them have been awesome people, and some have been total jackasses. Not the entire group, the individuals. The government will pass laws and people will always disagree with them; I’m more concerned about learning what kind of a person someone is on their own, apart from everything I’m supposed to believe they are because of what I’ve heard from others.
Now what did bother me was hearing that Sportsnet announcer, Damian Goddard, was fired for supporting Reynolds in his opinion. Goddard tweeted, “I completely and whole-heartedly support Todd Reynolds and his support for the traditional and TRUE meaning of marriage.” Sportsnet then cut ties with Goddard, saying in a press release,
“Damian Goddard is no longer with Rogers Sportsnet. Mr. Goddard was a freelance contractor and in recent weeks it had become clear that he is not the right fit for our organization. As this is a confidential personnel matter, we will not be commenting further except to say that views expressed by Mr. Goddard on Twitter are his own and do not reflect the views of Rogers or Rogers Sportsnet.”
While it may be inappropriate to make public, opinionated, comments while you’re supposed to be an unbiased reporter, especially while working for a national broadcaster, I don’t see why a guy is no longer capable of performing his job and earning a living based on speaking his democratic right to his opinion. This is the sort of thing I have a problem with, and I respect Rogers Sportsnet a lot less for it. And I already disliked Rogers a lot to begin with. Goddard doesn’t have to support gay-marriage if he doesn’t want to, nor does anyone else. If anyone in this situation has a right to be angry, I think it is probably Goddard. I guess he should have added his later tweeted disclaimer, “…damian goddard’s tweets reflect the views of damian goddard” on a little sooner.