Kane down low, touch pass, he scores!
I love ice hockey. When I say I love ice hockey, I mean I really love ice hockey. I’ve spent at least $2000 on the game in the past 18 months, on streaming subscriptions, jerseys and other memorabilia. But it doesn’t mean that I agree with their presentation of games.
I was fortunate enough to see my favourite team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, take on the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Centre, which is the Kings’ home.
Even if they were favourites to finish last in the league and their opponents were the champions from a few seasons prior, I got to see my favourite team play. And I was so excited.
The game was set to begin 8:30pm, so I enjoyed a nice meal with my family beforehand. This was the first time I noticed some bias.
We walked into the restaurant, about a 20-minute drive from the Staples Centre, wearing full Maple Leaf kit: jerseys, hats, beanies, jumpers – my brother even had a sign. And we were jeered and booed as we walked into this restaurant.
You would expect this if you were walking down Caxton Street wearing a Blues jersey after losing 52-6 (I would know), but it wasn’t some burger place, it was an upper-class restaurant with $40 steaks.
I brushed this aside as an out-of-the-ordinary scenario. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
We arrived at the game about 45 minutes before the scheduled puck drop and sat at our seats for the pre-show warm up. The lights went dark, the crowd cheered with anticipation, and the announcer boomed over the sound system that “Our LA Kings” are about to skate onto the ice.
Being polite, my family clapped as they skated on to begin their warm up. We waited for about five minutes for the Maple Leafs to warm up, before noticing that they had in fact been on the ice the entire time. They had entered while the lights were down to little fanfare.
After the warm up, the announcer told the crowd of the line-up for the evening’s game. They began with the LA Kings, which seemed odd. Surely you would begin with the travelling team to build up to your team?
But they didn’t need the build-up, because they simply didn’t mention the Toronto line-up.
It was finally time for the game to begin, the lights went dark once again, and loud music began to play. Again the announcer asked us to welcome “Our LA Kings”, again we clapped out of politeness.
The announcer told the crowd who was starting in goal that night for the Kings, Martin Jones. We were excited to hear who was in goal for the Maple Leafs, but we weren’t told.
It was only if you looked down at your ticket would you know who the other team was. The first time they were mentioned was to gain a reaction from the crowd: the announcer gave a short preview of the game and stated that the Maple Leafs’ management had sacked head coach Randy Carlyle less than a week earlier, which received a mix of cheers and boos from the crowd.
Throughout the night, the away team were mentioned more and more often, but always in negative tones.
When a player was sent to the penalty box, it was only mentioned when it was a Toronto player, and never an LA player.
When you go to a rugby league game, there will be a point made to introduce the players of the travelling team and announce when they enter the field of play, rather than making their entrance non-existent.
Australia, congratulations. You have shown to me that you know how to provide a sporting event in a respectful and non-biased way.