Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Brunt blunt about Cherry's act

Just to totally belabour it ... it would be remiss not to pass on what Stephen Brunt had to say about a certain high-collared hockey commentator: "... what (Don Cherry is really saying is that not just hockey, but life was better back when nearly every player in the NHL was Canadian."

Brunt, as you can see, can sift out the political and keep this focused on sports.
"For the moment, however, consider only how that logic applies to the world of sports. Consider any other game, and just try to imagine a similar line of argument.

"The English can occasionally sound a bit xenophobic when they discuss the sport they invented and the pervasiveness of imported talent in the Premier League, but no one could seriously argue that the global talent pool, the wildly varying styles of play, haven't made soccer stronger, more popular, more fun to watch.

"No one who loves basketball seriously laments the arrival of Europeans and Africans and Asians in the NBA. No one thinks it was a dark day when Hakeem Olajuwon or Dirk Nowitzki or Yao Ming brought their talents to North America (and no one believes that a flamboyant dunk ought to be punished by cutting the dunker's knees out from under him).

"... baseball's increasing diversity is viewed as a huge plus. Who pines for the days before Ichiro and Dice K, before Latin players arrived on the scene, before African-Americans were allowed to play in the big leagues? To do so wouldn't just make you a racist, it would mean you were blind to the fact those players made the sport in every way better."
One point made yesterday was that if the content is the audience, then, "Cherry reminds us of the Canada we would rather not be so much anymore. He's an atavism, a ghetto hoser." Brunt has that covered too, without actually coining a term such as "ghetto hoser" (although a million points if you get the reference, the author and the novel):
"(Cherry's) most enthusiastic customers are those who must find the streets of Toronto or Montreal or Vancouver very alienating indeed. He imagines Eden in the mythical, homogeneous Parry Sound that gave birth to Bobby Orr.

"... But when the act becomes truly embarrassing, you have to wonder how many people really think like him any more? How many living in what has forever been a land of immigrants are really so flummoxed by anything deemed not sufficiently Anglo-Saxon?"
That's the size of it, really.

It's a small world, according to Cherry (Stephen Brunt,


Dennis Prouse said...

"How many living in what has forever been a land of immigrants are really so flummoxed by anything deemed not sufficiently Anglo-Saxon?"

Err, there's lots of them. My in-laws are from northern New Brunswick, where you won't see a non-white person for miles. In fact, when I first went there as a city mouse who had always grown up in a cosmopolitan area, the first thing I said to my soon-to-be-wife was, "everyone here is white!" Indeed, most of Atlantic Canada outside Halifax is like that. In fact, most northern and rural cities in this country are like that. They are slowly shrinking, granted, and quite literally are dying, but Cherry is popular because he speaks to a much wider audience than a younger, more urban generation cares to imagine.

sager said...


Point well taken, but the thrust of Brunt's point was that it's wrong to think hockey would be better if it was all Canadian, just as it would be to say the EPL should be all Brits (although Aston Villa fans might not mind).

He made a side point about people who are "flummoxed by anything not sufficiently Anglo-Saxon." (Emphasis mine.) There are plenty of places in Canada which are pretty homogenous, but it's a fair leap to go from "everyone here is white!" to saying most, let alone all of them feel threatened. Doesn't that sell people a bit short?

Hell, when I worked in Simcoe, it was more diverse than Kingston because people variously celebrated their Portuguese, Ukrainian, Belgian, Polish and Hungarian heritage. It was an example of how we make it work in Canada, and this was a place where if you visited, you might say that everyone was white.