I did some unavoidable driving-around today and tuned in, as I do from time to time, the sports station, which was discussing the evening-to-be’s hockey game. Because while I am not what anyone would call a real fan, I am an admirer of serious, respectful, grown-up discourse.

The afternoon warm-up show for the game proceeds at a measured pace, a leisurely flow of conversations with sportswriters and broadcasters, both here and from the opposing team’s hometown. It’s friendly. Voices are not raised. Jokes are made.

It’s also remarkably, you know, intelligent. They will spend ten or fifteen minutes in a row deep-diving on the subtleties of the Vancouver power play (hockey jargon for that period when your opponent is being penalized and you have a numerical advantage), or what trading strategies Calgary might deploy to enhance its not-terribly-good-I-gather chances of making the playoffs with the current line-up.

They argue — intensely, with heavy recourse to statistical evidence; and respectfully, with routine acknowledgment when a telling point occurs on the other side of the debate. Which implies that they listen carefully to what each other are saying, and react to its substance. They laugh often, enjoy each others’ insights, and thank their on-air guests in a tone that seems genuine.

Even those segments when they take on-the-air calls from fans are not terrible; a remarkable proportion of the callers have something substantive to say, assuming you grant hockey discourse the potential for substance.

I don’t follow any teams in particular, but will sometimes switch a game on in the early evening before silence falls and I can turn to music or the Internet; I enjoy hockey’s intensity and virtuosity and violence. I did that this evening, and while the game was unremarkable (the Flames got whacked, but they defended a 5-minute power play with elan), a couple of times I realized that my perception of the action was being influenced by one of that talk show’s more telling points.

I wish, I really wish, that the fatuous self-serving drivel on the subject of WikiLeaks flowing from the serried ranks of opportunist windbag hypocrites were anything like as thoughtful and subtle as your average hockey pre-game show.



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From: Doug Hammond (Dec 02 2010, at 03:38)

I suspect the difference is that talking about sports does nothing to change the game. The only thing at stake is the reputation of the person giving their opinion, so it pays to be candid and insightful.

If there was candid and honest discussion about the latest leak it could lead to serious reform and (god forbid!) bureaucrats losing their jobs. For many people it pays if the discussion is as muddied and unproductive as is possible.

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From: Jay Gischer (Dec 02 2010, at 15:52)

I've given up on thinking of people as "hypocrites". I prefer to think of them as opportunistic windbag <i>jackasses</i>, who think their, ahem, braying is beautiful music.

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From: Tony Fisk (Dec 03 2010, at 00:05)

I have no objection to US defence officials getting annoyed about the leaks (it is, after all, part of their job) and I do think that wikileaks displays a certain 'predilection' in what items it publishes (although that is also dependent on what they've got).

So far, however, the hype about lives endangered comes across as a bit rich. Meantime Cheney has an arrest warrant from Nigeria.

Choose your terrorist!

It will be interesting to see which bank gets its linen aired... oh dear! Site's been taken right down! Can't have *that* happening

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From: Mike (Dec 04 2010, at 00:59)

Ironic how the commentary doesn't reflect the game. Isn't hockey the game where hotheaded players regularly assault one another, with no legal consequences? What's the deal with that?

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From: DavidW (Dec 09 2010, at 19:25)

I find your opinion very interesting. I grew up in a small community in the middle of nowhere (read: rural Manitoba) and I grew to have an intense hatred for anything to do with hockey. Perhaps it was simply the immaturity of my high school classmates (goes with the high school territory I believe) but it would seem to me that people would arbitrarily pick some team to root for and then ruthlessly mock, cajole and isolate persons who picked the "wrong" team.

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