Friday, July 18, 2008

Bitter old men and their stories about golf

As a soccer guy, I’m supposed to hate Dave Perkins. He epitomizes the grumpy if-I-didn’t-cover-it-in-1973-it-doesn’t-matter attitude that a lot of the old guard in the Canadian sports media seems to sport. But, I just can’t. He chronicles golf too damn good to be hated—-even if he’s dead wrong about the place of the world’s game in Canada.

Golf’s a funny one. It seems like it should be going the way of horse racing and boxing in the sports media world (something you let the 90-year-old columnist ramble on about every so often because that’s just what he does and besides the guy’s a legend. He covered Dimaggio). Yet, it holds onto relevancy. No one older than 40 will admit to watching golf on TV, but somehow papers like The Star keep sending guys like Perkins to Augusta and England to cover it. So, someone must be watching/reading.

And, when the British Open rolls around we are all the better for it. The one tournament that those less than 40 may admit to watching is the British Open (indeed, it’s on in the background as I type this now—Tom Watson-- TOM WATSON! --just missed a birdie putt). There is something about watching pros playing golf on land that looks like it’s located beside the #401 and earmarked for a future Wal-Mart. The chaos of it all somehow makes it cool—Xtream, even.

And, by extension, so does Perkins (as an aside, unlike Bob Elliot, who writes about baseball with a certain purity but sounds like the drunk sitting beside you in a seedy pub, Perkins sounds exactly like he writes—like your jaded, bitter uncle Pete-- back in my day we played the game the way it was supposed to be played. Then them liberals ruined everything).

So, keep an eye on the old grump this weekend as the most unpredictable golf tournament in the world unfolds. Uncle Pete doesn’t know a damn thing about what he doesn’t know, but the bastard can write.

And besides Weir’s in the hunt (for now).


Anonymous said...

"He epitomizes the grumpy if-I-didn’t-cover-it-in-1973-it-doesn’t-matter..."

Oh, you can include Bob McCowan in that bunch too. You can pretty much sum up his sports worldview like this: "Baseball, CFL, hockey good - soccer, NFL bad."

Duane Rollins said...

...I can't hate McCown either. He's too damn good at what he does (although he's best when Brunt is sitting beside him to add balance).

But, if you are an aspiring sportswriter younger than 40 you had better get to know your bouncy ball and your sawker (Keeping an eye on that cricket might not be the worse thing you could do either).

Unless you're Mirtle. He's got Duhatschek nervous, I'm sure.

Speaking of James (if you're reading)...There is a job posting that went up today that has your name written all over it--if Sportsnet is smart about it, anyway...

Tyler King said...

They were saying the same thing about baseball. Yet even though it routinely triples/quadruples/septuples the ratings of Toronto FC games, no sportscaster/journalist really needs to know anything about baseball (that's why Steve Simmons actually gets to write columns about it).

Soccer will likely get the same treatment - your sports anchors will be able to read off scripted highlight narrations, and look up player name pronounciations (still muffing 20% of them at minimum), but analysis will be sparse. Soccer will have its Jeff Blairs, maybe even its own Mike Wilner, but they'll routinely be subject to the idiocy spouted by the "national" columnists who assume they're insightful about any and every sport.

It's not going to supplant baseball or basketball. And hell, I love cricket, but I also know enough to realize its growing popularity is primarily due to growing immigrant populations who grew up with the game and brought it over, not due to permeating the mainstream sports market dominated by hockey.

It's useful to know niche sports, but it's not going to be a requirement.

And that kinda sucks, but what can you do.

Duane Rollins said...

TFC ratings on CBC are about 100k. The Jays get 200-300,000. So, yes, the Jays numbers are far better than TFCs (although not better than the Euros were).

But, this isn't 1968. A Canadian sportswriter needs to know more than just the big three (baseball, hockey, football). Continuing immigration and the diversity of sporting interest of generation X, Y and whatever the hell the one after that is going to be called will make sure of that.

Tyler King said...

Then why are so many sportswriters who clearly don't know more than the big one (hockey) so successful?

I'm just saying - if diversification of interest beyond hockey and into football, baseball, and basketball didn't transform the media, why would further diversification into soccer, cricket, and so forth have that effect?

Duane Rollins said...

And the MSM is so healthy right now.....

Um, wait...

Duane Rollins said...

Fine, I'll address it a little less flippantly.

In Canada, outside of a very small and select few writing at major metros, there are two types of sportswriters. Hockey writers and Generalists.

Hockey writers don't need to know a damn thing about anything else.
But, generalists better damn well know their hockey. That's just the way it is.

And Tyler I'm not making an argument that soccer will surpass one of the big three in popularity. I'm just suggesting that the audience's interest is diversifying and it is stupid to ignore the likes of new Canadians.

Tyler King said...

Stupid, yes. And so is, oftentimes, the MSM. So I just don't see it happening.

Plus soccer's appeal outside Toronto, and perhaps Vancouver/Montreal, is negligible. Plus, the Euro ratings were below Jays games (which there are 162 of) for the preliminary rounds and only surpassed it for elimination playoffs, which you can't really compare to the MLB regular season. If the Jays made the playoffs they'd crush those ratings too.

sager said...

I'm as guilty as anyone of bringing up TV ratings sometimes, but really, it's not an end-all be-all measuring stick. The Neilson metrics are seriously flawed (how many of those little boxes are even given to first-generation Canadian families)?

Besides, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, that's like 12 million out 33 million in this country. If Euro 2008 isn't a big deal in Brantford or Brandon, that's not gonna keep soccer off Canadian networks.

Don't be a conservative with 2 perfectly good feet who has never learned to walk forward.