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.