Saturday, 23 September 2017

TBC: Best Canadian Sports Writing

A rainy Saturday has derailed my original plan of being in the garden today. In fact, with it being rainy and cold, the day has afforded me time to do something I rarely seem to have to time to do in reading. I spent most of the day with a book in my hands, and I am happy to say I read some very excellent writing. Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Best Canadian Sports Writing, edited by Stacey May Fowles and Pasha Malla, and published by ECW Press. In Best Canadian Sports Writing, Miss Fowles and Mr. Malla selected 38 stories written by a number of excellent Canadian writers who saw their works about a vast number of sports published in a number of different different places. The submissions of these stories were collected and chosen for this book by Miss Fowles and Mr. Palla, and presented as this collection entitled Best Canadian Sports Writing. And there are some great stories written!

From Miss Fowles' website, "Stacey May Fowles is an award-winning novelist, journalist, and essayist. Author of three novels, her bylines include The National Post, The Globe and Mail, Elle Canada, Maisonneuve, Toronto Life, The Walrus, Canadaland, Vice Sports, The Toast, The New Inquiry, Deadspin, Jezebel, The Classical, Rookie, Hazlitt, Prism, Quill and Quire, and many others. She has been a frequent guest on CBC's Metro Morning, is a former member of q's sports panel, and her writing has been anthologized in places ranging from Baseball Prospectus to Our Bodies, Ourselves." She currently lives in Toronto where she writes about books for the Globe & Mail and about baseball for Jays Nation and The Athletic. She can be found on Twitter under missstaceymay.

Pasha Malla is an exceptional young writer who was born in St. John's, Newfoundland before moving to London, Ontario. He was a graduate student at Concordia University. His first book, The Withdrawal Method, won the 2009 Trillium Book Award in fiction that comes with an award of $20,000 and won the $10,000 Danuta Gleed Literary Award the same year. The Withdrawal Method was "also longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for 'Best First Book' in the region of the Caribbean and Canada". "Filmsong", a short story Malla wrote, also won the Arthur Ellis Award. Malla has published two additional books entitled All Our Grandfathers Are Ghosts in 2008 and People Park in 2012, both of which received critical praise. Malla also contributes to NewYorker.com, CBC Radio, and the Globe and Mail. He currently lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

The works contained within the covers of Best Canadian Sports Writing cover a vast number of sports - hockey, baseball, MMA, wrestling, cricket, basketball, and boxing among the topics - but they also cover a vast number of societal issues such as mental health in athletes, economics of playing sports, background and race in sports, and gender equality in sports. If one were looking for a textbook to teach sports journalism that has examples of outstanding writing not only on sports, but on society, Best Canadian Sports Writing would be my nominee for that textbook.

Now that I've called Best Canadian Sports Writing a textbook, I can hear a number of you saying, "Nope, not for me," but it's not written like a textbook in any way. The articles contained in Best Canadian Sports Writing are from reputable outlets such as Sportsnet Magazine, The Walrus, Toronto Life, and Sports Illustrated. These aren't dry, scientific papers with a pile of footers to reads through - although some do that footers - but rather a number of well-written, well-researched stories that connect the reader with the subject. In the end, reading Best Canadian Sports Writing felt like, to use a technology term, an RSS of the best Canadian stories on sports at my fingertips.

There were a couple of stories that really jumped out at me - Sheryl Swoopes' legacy in women's basketball was incredible, and Kimbo Slice's work in helping his son and others with autism find hope was inspiring - but it was Dan Robson's story from the May 12, 2014 copy of Sportsnet Magazine about the boys from Whale Cove, Nunavut that really show just how good Canadians writers are at framing and telling a story. Dan's story follows a ragtag group of boys from Whale Cove to Winnipeg and then to a small town in northwestern Ontario called Longlac where they are treated like rock stars for simply making the trip. It's here where we discover that these feisty young men from Whale Cove not only can play hockey, but are pretty amazing young people as well.
The journey to Toronto came next, after the series - a two-day bus ride with players from the Geraldton High team into a new world. None of the ten from Whale Cove had ever been to a city so large - it was a place they only saw on TV while watching the Leafs play. As the yellow bus wobbled along the single-lane highways of northern Ontario, the boys leaned on each other, resting in the tiny seats as they watched the trees blur by. Sixteen hours and 1,200 kilometres later, those trees gave way to concrete buildings, the single roads morphing into an eight-lane highway and a mountain of a rising city. They stared at the cars and the people that passed - so many anonymous faces. They passed people lying on the streets, cold and alone, and anonymous, too. And Demitre stopped to give one food. And David and Simon stopped to give another some of the cash they'd saved to buy new clothes. And so the Whalers did as Whale Covers do - "You would never see someone without a place to go in Whale Cove," says David.
Stories like Mr. Robson's piece are found throughout Best Canadian Sports Writing. While the focus is on the sport, there is so much good written alongside the athletes in question that give a glimpse into humanity that I didn't want to put the book down. From learning about the people who created a thriving Filipino basketball league in Whitehorse, Yukon to reading about the Raonics and how Milos found his passion in tennis to reading about the experiences and challenges of five black journalists, Best Canadian Sports Writing will open your eyes to some of the best writing ever produced in Canada!

While it's not a story that one would read from cover to cover, the nice thing about Best Canadian Sports Writing is that the 38 short stories are only a few pages long save for one long article on professional wrestling. If one were looking to take breaks between chapters, the short stories and pieces in Best Canadian Sports Writing certainly afford that and make it easy to plan reading sessions. I liked this design for the book, and the fact that the stories were mixed together in a jumble of sports meant that each new story often was a new sport with a new story to discover.

Overall, the 393 pages of Best Canadian Sports Writing contain 38 stories that take you across the sports landscape and introduce you to people whose stories are bigger than just the sport each plays. It's in this writing and this discovery that I believe readers of Best Canadian Sports Writing will find true value in this book. While HBIC focuses on hockey, the hockey stories in Best Canadian Sports Writing take you beyond the rink and into people's lives for a better understanding of each subject's full examination. This happens in every story in Best Canadian Sports Writing, and it's entirely why I believe that Best Canadian Sports Writing deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

You can find Best Canadian Sports Writing at all major bookstores and libraries in the New Release section as it was officially released on Wednesday. I recommend this book to all sports fans despite some occasional PG-language!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 22 September 2017

We Did The Unthinkable

Tonight, I had the pleasure of covering for our normal public address announcer at the Bisons men's hockey game. The game itself was played at Seven Oaks Arena on the opposite side of town from the University of Manitoba as the CFL's Blue Bombers and their fans had taken over Investors Group Field at the university. Being a neutral site game, we had none of the comforts we normally do at Wayne Fleming Arena and it forced us to improvise with other options - music, announcements, and a completely new timing system. We made it all work in the end, but we did something that I wasn't sure I'd see this early after posting an article about it.

On Monday, I wrote an article about how I'd like to see the tradition of anthems being sung prior to sports events to end. It got a lot of traction through social media, and I have to admit that there were some good debates around the topic. I still believe anthems should be retired, but I never thought I'd be a part of a test run tonight!

As I stated above, we were working off a laptop that was filled with music, but the one piece of music that was notably absent on the laptop was "O Canada". Because we were inside an arena, the wifi signals weren't very good nor did we have passwords to access them, so we were kind of in a bind. It was decided with about twenty minutes prior to the opening face-off that without an anthem singer and without the music, we would skip the anthem on this night!

With about three minutes to go prior to game time, I announced the starting lineups for the Regina Cougars. They came out on to the ice, and the Bisons made their way down the tunnel and took to the ice as well. I announced the Bisons' starting lineup, and then we simply played some upbeat rock-and-roll as the officials spoke with both benches. The players organized themselves on the ice, the officials took their places, and the puck was dropped to open the game. Not one person seemed to miss the anthem, and neither team put up an objection to the omission of this "traditional" piece of the game.

Will this happen again? I doubt it. One of the things that the Gameday Manager for the Bisons does is work with a group that provides anthem singers for every home game that happens on the campus. These young singers use the opportunity to add to their resumés and to their portfolios, so it's helpful in that sense.

But did we miss it tonight? Nope. No one - fan, player, coach, official - mentioned the lack of anthem as we walked the concourse post-game, and the overall effect was zero on the game. It was a fast, exciting preseason game that featured a couple of fights, some nice goals, a few big saves, and a Bisons 3-2 win at the final buzzer.

I'm not saying we're going to set a trend here, but if it didn't matter to anyone on this night, should it matter to anyone on any other random night?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 261

The Hockey Show is back tonight with its usual cast of characters - Teebz and Beans - as we get to work on breaking down the stories and information from the last couple of weeks around the hockey spectrum. There have been a number of interesting stories that have broken, and it's time we sit down and sort through everything that has been written, said, implied, and inferred so that you get a better sense of what's happening in the big picture of hockey. While that sounds ominous, it shouldn't be. You know you'll get the important details from The Hockey Show as you always do!

What you see to the left is an accurate picture of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation president Ken King when it comes to paying for a new arena in downtown Calgary. We'll go over Mr. King's childish antics regarding the negotiations for a new arena tonight on the show, and break down why using any public money from the city of Calgary's coffers should result in some sort of repayment or future payments. We'll also take a look at a new piece of equipment Bauer is pushing that reportedly protects an athlete's brain, the Jets laying a pair of eggs against the Wild and Oilers and why fans should be very worried this year, shout-outs to the Winnipeg Goldeyes and 19-2, former guest Brian McGrattan's new role with the Flames, the Montreal Canadiens visiting Brandon, and we'll bounce around Europe to check on a number of players and how they're doing early in their seasons! We've got a lot to cover tonight, so make sure you tune in at 5:30pm!

So now you might be asking can you listen to the show, right? We suggest that you download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so go get it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today, and don't miss any of our great programming or shows!

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

Tonight, Teebz and Beans look at arena woes, Jets woes, Bauer knows, Big Ern's new role, European snipe shows, and other fun stuff only on The Hockey Show found on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Goal Of The Year Candidate

The young man in the image to the left is Jiri Sekac. You may remember he had a cup of coffee with the Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, and Arizona Coyotes before he left for greener pastures in the KHL with Ak Bars Kazan. Honestly, he was always seen as a solid talent with above-average skill, and yet somehow Montreal managed to deal him to Anaheim for Devante Smith-Pelly. Anaheim then dealt him to Chicago for Ryan Garbutt. Chicago then waived him and Arizona claimed him. Sekac will participated in the 2015 Skills Competition as one of the rookies who got an invite, so I'm not sure why all these teams gave up on him.

In any case, Sekac is now playing in the KHL for Ak Bars Kazan as stated above. Last season saw him get his feet wet in 47 games where he scored 13 goals and 14 assists, but of his four goals thus far this season, he might have scored the GOTY (pronounced "Gotty") - the Goal of the Year - in a four-point effort against HC Slovan. Take a look at this dirty dangle he lays on Ivan Svanry and ridiculous goal he pots past Jakub Stepanuk.
I'm sorry, but WHAT?!? That's OUTSTANDING! With his four points against HC Slovan today, Sekac jumps ahead of Anton Lander's ten points on the season and just behind Justin Azevedo's twelve points. At age 26, this guy should still be in the NHL, but he's scoring highlight-reel goals and giving nightmares to opposing teams with his skills.

If the Czech Republic is looking for a goal-scorer at the Olympics, Sekac should be the guy who gets a tap on the shoulder. That skill can't be ignored.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

I Think I Recognize That Tendy

You see that goalie trying to peek around the crowd of women in front of her? That's former Manitoba Bisons netminder Amanda Schubert! Schubert is currently in Finland where she's playing for the women's KJT team in Helsinki, and it was nice to see an article about Amanda's debut in the league. Being that my Finnish is a little rusty, I can tell you that she's finding success on the ice in Finland with KJT which is always encouraging for a foreign player in a new league and land.

According the linked report above, the article states that Schubert held Rauman Lukko off the board for 59 minutes and 47 seconds until a late power-play goal got by her in helping KJT earn their first win in the season opener by a 2-1 score. Sofia Nuutinen and Linnea Snickars scored for KJT in helping get out to a 1-0 start this season, and they traveled home for their second game the following day in welcoming Kuortane to town.

Despite Kuortane entering the game 0-1 after a loss to KalPa, this game was a little more lopsided. After holding the Kuortane scoreless in the first period, they found the back of the net twice in the second period behind Schubert. Things kind of got out of hand when Kuortane added four more goals in the third period en route to a 6-0 victory, but it should be noted that Schubert made 48 stops in the defeat. KJT drops to 1-1-0 on the season and sits in the middle of the pack with a number of other teams.

Friday night sees KJT playing the 0-2 Espoo Blues in Espoo while Saturday sees 0-2 Rauman Lukko visit KJT in the first rematch of the season. I haven't been able to find any feeds for the Naisten Liiga yet where I can watch Amanda and KJT play, but I'll keep searching so we can keep up with one of the alumna of the Bisons women's hockey team!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!