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.


About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on February 11, 2013, in British Hockey, Hockey and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. What a load of crap. I’m watching a hockey game right now on my computer and I can follow the action fine.

    It’s actually not a big deal to me, that he doesn’t like hockey. It’s not for everyone. It is a big deal that a “sports writer” would spend zero minutes researching a sport, 30 minutes watching a sport (60 minutes of game time, so he probably caught one period) and then see fit to tell other uninitiated that it’s unfit for viewing.

    Here was the plan.

    1. Spend 30 mins watching hockey
    2. Write down everything that confuses you and pretend it’s analysis.
    4. Profit.

    It’s funny how you think “lamenting” will keep fans away, yet a popular writer like Liew telling potential fans not to watch is fine?

    Journalism is supposed to include research so you can pass that information on to your readers. Liew clearly didn’t do any of that.


  2. He’s paid to know about sport, but like most “sportswriters” in this country, they only understand one sport; football. His lack of knowledge shows and when most people have the common sense to not say anything when they don’t understand the subject in hand, he decides to write a poorly worded article that has a tone that seems to mock ice hockey. If he had done his research like any good writer should, he would of known that getting Team GB on TV has been a huge step forward in the publicity for the sport. Who’s he to criticise something he’s just discovered and knows nothing about?

    I don’t approve of the childish insults he’s getting from certain fans, but I do approve of them questioning him and the Telegraph for putting such a poorly written article on a site being negative towards something they know next to nothing about. It should never of gotten past publishing.


  3. I think on the whole people missed the point of the piece. Where yes, he spent 30 minutes watching it, I got the impression that the style of column it is, there is never any research to a topic, it is just a reaction to what the writer sees on the screen. And further more it is an opinion piece. I know I’ve written many opinion pieces in the past where it has been a reaction to something that has happened in a game. Heck, if as a fan I got all upset and uppety about something that some journalist wrote about teams I support or negatively about hockey, I’d never sleep as I’d be too busy venting my frustrations on the Internet 24/7.

    As for the writing, yes I think it is poorly written, but for crying out loud, it’s not that big of a deal. It was buried in the Telegraph’s blog sections under other sports and if it wasn’t for the reaction of the hockey collective, it would’ve been a case of do-whop.

    Such is the state of modern day journalism that you are required to write 4-5 stories a day (more so with national titles where you also have a quota to meet for print magazine) that the quality of writing suffers.

    I think this blog spot nails the issue on its head without having to do a reply blog post to the author.


  1. Pingback: Hockey and the BBC in Sochi | One Puck Short

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