Hockey is a bloodsport we can appreciate; Politics, not so much FREE to Unlimited Access subscribersContact Doug
CALGARY, AB, Apr 16, 2015/ Troy Media/ – Pity the political pundits this week, because for the next few weeks their lives and passions are pretty much meaningless; their probing insights squandered.
Five Canadian teams are in the NHL playoffs. Meanwhile, earnest spooks in the shadows of the Centre Block are trying to interest us in a manufactured bloodsport. They obsess on whether Mike Duffy can land a mortal blow on his once-pal Stephen Harper, or whether Justin Trudeau’s spiral in the polls affirms that he really is a shallow dork.
Bulletin: Much of Canada just doesn’t care! Something much more important is playing out on big screens from sea to sea to sea.
Canadians just don’t care about fake political bloodsport
This may come as a shock to professionals who have built their lives around observing the Machiavellian machinations of the politicians in power and the indignant wannabes. To real people, on the other hand, the level of disinterest in the political gamesmanship is not a surprise at all.Hockey is a bloodsport Canadians can really get into
Check the voting numbers. The majority of Canadians detest politicians, refuse to vote for any of them, are cynical and disengaged about what happens when seemingly honest and well-intentioned people get into power, and have serious doubts that anything a citizen could say or do would make one whit of difference to the decisions that are made.
Now, hockey. That’s a different matter.
Hockey represents not only a matter of national pride, but it also contains a narrative people can relate to. There are two teams of players. The object is to beat the other guys. Everybody tries as hard as they can to make it happen. Sometimes, it turns out the way you want.
Is there dishonesty in hockey? There certainly haven’t been the doping scandals found in cycling. And there’s not much evidence of players engaging in comically dramatic falls, as you see in soccer. It’s reasonable to believe that if cheating exists, it’s on a very limited scale.
Are there people abusing the public purse? Well, some hockey players are extremely well paid, but they earn that compensation through talent and hard work (and for a limited time). The people who financially support the sport, the fans, do so by paying for the cable channel that carries the game or shelling out for the watered-down beer and stale pretzels at the arena. In other words, they voluntarily support the game – they aren’t involuntarily taxed to be there.
Can we vote the losers out? Now, that’s a good question. The free market model dictates that when a team performs poorly, the fans will stay away and the team must either improve or get sold to some American city that doesn’t want it either. For some reason, however, the free market model doesn’t always apply. Ask the hard-luck fans in Toronto why they continue to support a franchise that has been in perpetual disarray. It is a complete mystery to me.
Which would you rather watch? No contest. Do you think any Canadian in his or her right mind is interested in watching our MPs attempt to out-insult each other with carefully scripted answers during Question Period? It makes the drying of paint look like a compelling spectacle by comparison. But hockey! That’s exciting. Players race from end to end; people ram into each other; goalies make desperate lunges for a wobbling puck. That’s entertainment.
The distraction of the playoffs will pass in the next few weeks as one-by-one the Canadian teams bow out. That doesn’t mean that we must return to the bleak real-world equivalent of House of Cards.
Unlike in hockey, politicians never deliver
We could just vote with our channel-changers. Tune those politicians out like a losing hockey team until they figure out that we’re not buying the product they’re trying to sell. Maybe if they could deliver something that’s real – from the gut, not from the pollsters – something unfiltered and honest and that connects with people’s real lives, maybe then we’d be interested in them once again.
Maybe they’ll do that. Although it seems about as likely as the Toronto Maple Leafs winning the Stanley Cup.
Doug Firby is Editor-in-Chief and National Affairs columnist for Troy Media.
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