Archive for the ‘Sports Nostalgia’ Category

The Good Old Hockey Game

April 4, 2009

Hockey is well known as the dominate sport in Canada. So I think it is well within the mandate of this blog to bring you this.  That is quite possibly the greatest available piece of sports memorabilia in the world.  I can’t even begin to fathom the story that must be behind that sweater.  It has somehow survived 90 years of existence, and is now available to the general public.  Sure the guy who wore it was a mediocre player on a lousy team, but this sweater predates the Great Depression. It’s from the first NHL team to play south of the border and that first season. If you’ve got the money, here is a good play to spend it.(Thanks to uniwatch for the original link)

This entry also gives me an excuse to link to another antique sweater that may have been lost to time.  A group of collectors are hunting down a sweater from the Hamilton Tigers NHL team. The team was only here for 5 years and left after the players refused to participate in the playoffs without extra pay (they had the best record in the league at the time).  The franchise was sold to New York interests and became the New York Americans.  As the group points out there is lots of info out there about Hamilton’s futile efforts to get an NHL team. I have long wanted a replica Tiger’s sweater, but little did I know that some people were hunting down an original. To date they have had no success other than following an alleged trail that hasn’t quite panned out.  With all the bad news surrounding this city in the last many years, I think something as silly as this is a nice distraction.  Hamilton has a proud heritage and I’m glad there are people attempting to hang on to it.

Shhhhhhhh! I’m Trying To Cheer!

March 17, 2009

Thanks to a shipping error I am now currently overstocked on wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men, and I am passing the savings on to you!!

Al Harrington

Al Harrington’s Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man Emporium and Warehouse (Family Guy)

A new podcast dealing with the same topic as this post is available over there–>.

Here is an article that touches my life in several ways.  First, my grandmother is from Nottingham, so I have some ancestry connections.

More importantly this idea of creating atmosphere with phony fans is absolutely funny, not only because of the absurdness of the idea, but also because you’d be hard pressed to find a difference between blow up dolls and many fans at North American sporting events.  Now I will admit that I tend to be among the more restrained people at a game.  I will cheer for my favourite teams and stand up after a good play. I will get louder to spur on the defence, and when I was younger I’d even yell out the odd taunt.  What shocks me, and many observers, is the lack of knoweldgeable cheering among fans.  In most professional sports, large sound systems and screaming announcers dominate the crowd. On the surface there is nothing inherently wrong with this.  After all, arena builders spend hundreds of thousands of dollars outfitting their buildings with the best equipment and they should make use of it.  Awhile ago I wrote about using small sports leagues to help people reconnect to their communities.  A professional sports team develops their own community among their supporters.  In the past most teams drew their in stadium supporters from a wide swath of society.  Without advanced sound systems the crowd was forced to make noise and create home field advantage all on their own. It was also necessary for fans to understand the dynamics of the game they were watching and cheer at appropriate times. The most often cited example of this is when a crowd gets loud for their defence at a football game, and then quieter for the offence.  There are many subtler examples of this phenomenon but the anecdotal evidence demonstrates that crowds are either less interested in the games they are watching, or have been programmed to follow the music. Thus the crowd is more disjointed, quieter, and much less cohesive.  I won’t try to name the various types of fans you’ll find but they range from businessperson out with clients to drunk twentysomething to lifelong diehard to family.

One other aspect of this change is arena architecture.  Bill Simmons of ESPN has written about state of the art (SOTA) stadiums/arenas.  He argues that they are built to exclude the ordinary fan in favour of higher paying customers.  The consequence is a crowd experience that is, in his opinion, lacking in passion and intensity.

The final element in this mixture is television.  For the average fan, who may be feeling the effects of a failing economy and ticket prices that have been sky rocketing in recent years, watching games from home is an attractive alternative to attending them live.  I think this is a spiraling situation. As more fans stay home from games because the experience isn’t as fun, the crowds get less passionate and enthusiastic, meaning fewer people see the value in attending the games live.  At some point the major leagues will need to increase the revenue they get from tv (which is already quite substantial) if gate revenues begin to drop. Perhaps at that point inflatable crowds will be the norm.

First and Goal

February 4, 2009

I’m dragging you down, but you’re dragging me down, hey, and you’re slowing me down.



More snow is falling here today, and a brand new podcast will be up at some point today.  Shoveling always disrupts my schedule. Music on the show by Canada’s own, Broken Social Scene, The Stills, and my friend Snoovy.

Snoovy played at the last Mid-Summer Festival of Peace and Tranquility and played a fantastic set.  The crowd absolutely loved her.

I have occasionally touched upon sports related topics here on the blog.  I usually hesitate to do so because there are so many sports blogs that cover the topic much better than I ever could.  As it turns out today is either the 8th or 9th anniversary of the failed XFL, which was the WWF’s attempt to provide a spring alternative to the NFL.  I remember watching some of the upstart league with it’s unusual, but mostly useless rule variations. For some reason it didn’t occur to the founders of the XFL that if you create a more violent form of football your best players will be repeatedly injured leading to a lower caliber of play.

I mention this because once again my love of nostalgia leads me to remember the failed CFL expansion into the United States. For those of you who don’t remember this in the early 90’s the league decided that growth in the US was feasible and desireable.  While making the league bigger was a failure economically, and on the field (only the Baltimore Stallions were successful and they became the Montreal Alouettes), I still love the quirky uniforms and logos that those expansion teams had. I always create a CFL league in my Madden games, complete with the San Antonio Texans, Baltimore Stallions, Birmingham Barracudas, Memphis Mad Dogs, Shreveport Pirates, and Sacramento Gold Miners.  You might call it a bit weird but i’s a fun diversion for me.

If you ever visit the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum here in Hamilton you can still pick up some odds and ends from that era. A contingent from Baltimore continues to attend the Grey Cup each year.  Otherwise this era of the CFL is mostly ignored and forgotten.  I wonder how many thrift stores in the cities listed above have t-shirts, hats, and even jerseys from that failed experiment.

If you are taking some time to reflect on the XFL today, as many sports blogs and sites are, give the CFL some thought because they were one of a long line of football leagues that wanted a piece of the NFL pie (along with the USFL, WFL, and arena football).

Super Sunday Indeed

February 2, 2009

Bones sinking like stones, all of us are done for.


Don’t Panic

A trip down memory lane for me today as I returned to St. Jerome’s once again for the SJ Carnival. I was a little disappointed that the annual football game was scrapped to due a lack of faculty/staff/alumni attendance. But I did get some fun ball hockey in.  Being back at SJU reminded me of the above song.  Dave and I played it at many coffeehouses over our 4 years as students.

As I have been there all day, and the Super Bowl is tonight, this will be a short post.

When I was chatting with Emily during the last podcast I was chatting off-air with her about my connection to the world of design.  I came to appreciate the work of designers through an interest in sports uniforms.  I will probably do a larger post about some of my favourites in the future, but for the moment I want to mention a blog that I have followed for over a year. Uniwatch is the place to find information about uniforms and logos, from the past, present, and future.  Anything I know about graphic design probably comes from reading posts and comments on that blog. The site founder Paul Lukas has parlayed a love of sports aesthetics and his writing career into a job with ESPN as their uniform guru. If you like sports I’d recommend poking around a bit to see if you like the jersey as much as the action.

Just a reminder that the deadline for the Poetry Contest is nearly upon us. I will be accepting late entries this week as I am a generous guy. Details are here.

From Downtown

January 2, 2009

For it’s root root root for the Blackhawks! If they don’t win it’s a shame!

Everyone at Wrigley Field

2009 NHL Winter Classic

New podcast goes up today. This time I am blessed to be visited by Max Woghiren of The Mass Romantics and an unnamed new music project. You can find out some of The Mass Romantics at their myspace page. You can enjoy his work on Chasing Concordia here. As always you can find the podcast over on the sidebar.

I’m moving a little out of my ordinary realm today because it’s New Year’s Day and the third outdoor NHL game is on TV.  Most people enjoy things that make them feel nostalgic.  I only played “pond hockey” once as a kid. I couldn’t really skate so it lacked a lot of appeal for me though I did play street hockey all the time.  I enjoy the Winter Classic because of the atmosphere and the notion of old time sports.  Allow me to clarify.  When I saw the movie Semi-Pro I wasn’t very impressed by the film, but I loved the arena.  Old arenas, stadiums, and rinks have a character that is unique. It is defined by tradition, intimacy, passion, and a raw energy that generations of fans share.  I grew up attending football games at Ivor Wynne Stadium, a venue that has stood for decades.  Fans from top to bottom sit on bench seats with painted numbers that let you know where your general area is.  I attended a number of games at old Tiger Stadium and have yet to experience anything like it. We were sitting along the third base line, near left field. Our seats felt like they were hanging over the left fielder. It was a surreal and amazing experience, even if the Tigers were a lousy team at the time.  I also had the chance to walk on the field and experience what generations of ball players had.

I’m sure many people are glad that places like SkyDome and the Air Canada Centre exist.  It’s nice to watch a game in comfort with padded seats and enormous video screens. I will always remember a CFL playoff game when, as I was sitting virtually beside the score board in the North-West corner of Ivor Wynne, Paul Osbaldiston attempted a 51 yard field goal against Montreal.  He was kicking to the East endzone so from where we were seated we couldn’t possibly see if it was good or not.  The “video screen” in those days could only show a garbled live picture that could have been a kids cartoon. Fortunately, the roar from the fans in the endzone spread across the stadium and we knew that the Ti-Cats had won the game. Experiences like that, on a cold November day, are the product of circumstance, tradition, and location.

I have read articles lamenting the loss of the fan experience.  A time before large audio systems and screaming game hosts. When fans had to make noise on their own by understanding the game in front of them.  Maybe someday The Alder Fork will own its own minor sports team and play games in a Cow Palace, or Memorial Arena. That’d be great.