Talk about a clear signal one has passed to the other side of the generation gap.
A purpose of going to the NHL Scouting Combine this past weekend, in the capacity of Buzzing The Net, was to bank a few Q-and-As with some of Canadian Hockey League players that will run, up until the June 25-26 NHL draft in Los Angeles. One question we asked in order to get a window into guys' outside-of-hockey personality was, "Favourite TV show and/or movie?" It's far better to ask that than favourite band, since it preempts the "all kinds of music" answer and journalists having to look up spellings of any acts that have come on the scene since 2003.
Not to give any spoilers, but Two And A Half Men was a pretty popular answer. It is television's No. 1 comedy, plus it's on constantly in syndication. Entourage, Lost and Family Guy popped up a couple times. A few answered Friends, on the premise that anyone who can survive the Wingate and V02 max tests is at no risk of having his dude membership revoked.
On Saturday, two players back-to-back answered Seinfeld. At that point, it came to mind that another TV comedy, the one which still airs in the same time slot it had in the 1990s, hadn't been mentioned once.
"No one's mentioned The Simpsons," I said.
"Yeah, that show's kind of old," one of the Seinfeld aficionados said.
Talk about jarring. You don't need to know what's on Taylor Hall's iPod playlist to know athletes aren't arbiters of cultural tastes. Personally, The Simpsons hasn't been a must-view since 1998 or '99. It doesn't take Chris Turner to know the show defined at least one generation, both those who were teenagers and young adults in the 1990s, along with their parents and younger siblings. (To this day, my 25-year-old brother's family nickname remains "The Boy," Homer's term of endearment for Bart.)
Still, athletes watch a lot of TV, since much of their time is spent in hotel rooms relaxing and resting up for games. There is total recall of feeling validated as a 13-year-old in 1990 after seeing an article in The Hockey News which the New York Rangers' Darren Turcotte listed The Simpsons as his favourite show: "A lot of hockey players like it because of the sarcasm."
(There's a chance I read that while hiding The Hockey News under my desk during French class. The French teacher at my elementary school was named Liz Latourell. Her spouse coaches football, meaning there is actually a high school football coach in Kingston whose last name sounds like "lateral," a football term.)
Not having a single Simpsons lover among 40 or so teenaged players was like Lyndon Johnson saying, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America," during the Vietnam War.
Or it was like the Season 6 episode when Homer is aghast after finding out his kids and their classmates have never heard of his favourite bands. However, cupping a hand to one's face and saying, "For more information on The Simpsons, consult your school library!" would kind of prove the point.