Man Is Slightly Negative About Ice Hockey. Suffers the Ire of British Fans.
Jonathan Liew is a writer for The Telegraph. Today he posted an article about his brief flirtation with ice hockey on TV, and more specifically Team GB’s recent clash with France.
If you’ve not seen it, Liew’s piece is here.
Liew was happy to admit his ignorance of hockey in the article, and gave what many would consider to be an accurate re-telling of his brief flirtation with hockey on TV.
Maybe that’s why so many British fans have run for their pitchforks?
Liew cut to the heart of the matter in my eyes – the sport is not suited to TV and despite positive attempts to spread the word of GB’s recent trip to Latvia; the vast majority of the British public remain largely ignorant of the sport – and an over eagerness by some to educate can often lead to a ridiculously defensive stance in the face of criticism.
What I am implying here is that any perceived slight against the sport in the UK seems to be met with a severe reaction. Liew has seen that first hand. And it is, frankly, embarrassing.
Ice hockey is a poor television sport. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise needs their head checked (no pun intended). It is poor even at the highest level. The speed of the game and the energy of being in the arena do not transfer well to the small screen. Even for the educated it can make for tedious viewing.
For those who are not well versed in the rules and common events a game brings, it can be doubly confusing. The ‘initiated’ have a certain degree of ability to read a play. A skill which helps us all follow the action, no matter how frantic. A skill which transfers to the small screen.
We know the rules. We understand the lingo, the clichés and the subtle nuances.
All of which seem to have been forgotten here.
Being a ‘professional journalist’ means Liew should some how know more than your average man on the street about the sport. That his off the cuff piece should have somehow been an in depth factual analysis of the game in Britain today.
But why? This wasn’t a fact finding mission – it was a commentary. An opinion piece. A reflection of a mans experience.
Why is the onus on him to learn? And not the sport to educate?
Surely someone at a production meeting should have flagged something up along the lines of “This isn’t really a hockey country, how can we make it as accessible as possible?”.
I’m not talking dumbing it right down and patronising the existing fan base, but by lamenting people like Liew we simply serve to close the door on those not familiar with the sport and alienate potential new fans.
This bizarre elitism is only furthered by the playground attempts to ‘confront’ Liew; then the foot stamping when he dares to reply in a tongue in cheek manner. At times he has even been condescending – and I can’t say that I blame him given some of the ridiculous tweets he has received.
All in all it’s been a cringe worthy episode for British hockey. It really is in everyone’s best interest to let this one blow over – because right now an awful lot of people are making British hockey look like it’s full of crackpots with their head in the sand.