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“Calm Down Dear!”

Todays article by Jonathan Liew on the Telegraph Website’s TV Blog; has brought the ire of many UK Hockey fans following the wonderful ESPN coverage of Team GB in Latvia.

All too rare coverage of the game on national television was greeted warmly by hockey fans who sat to watch the game they love and know so well. The bare bones coverage was excellent for those of us starved of it on television. Provided at no doubt a relatively low budget in comparison to other sports.

Mr Liew’s opinion however has brought anger, through his pointed approach to criticise the coverage. Through no fault of his own, and quite openly in his own ignorance, his comparision of this one-off coverage to more seasonsed televisual sports developed strong negative opinions. While forums and twitter have been rife in the airing of said opinions.

This is but an incredible storm in a miniscule tea cup.

But for said storm this minor opinion TV blog, online only, by a young writer trying to make his name at a major national, would have been ignored.

However the response, instead of being that of a moral high-ground “thank you for your opinion, you are welcome to it”, has been nothing short of an embarrassment to the sport.

The abuse this writer has received via twitter from “hockey fans” has been nothing short of a disgrace. And while his replies have been equally jagged, the on-going debate of this blog brings credence to his musings that many, including myself, do not wholly agree with, and probably encourages him to press further with more extreme opinions in order to develop his name and incite more ‘debate’.

This should be an opportunity for understanding, development and education. Not attack, abuse and resentment.

We are all welcome to our opinions and many voice them in various pointed ways. While others are employed to fill column inches with said opinions.

Not everyone is informed on hockey.

Not everyone likes hockey.

Not everyone’s opinion on hockey is positive. Such is the way of the world.

To jump on the back of this journalist in the means the wider UK Hockey Community have, has done nothing to promote anything other than the overly protective insular nature that has perpetrated through our sport for many years.

While you may think that in order to have an opinion you must be fully informed. This is but an ideal for life. It isn’t always the case.

What Mr Liew’s blog did demonstrate is what could be considered a wider view of our game, and an initial challenge to those who attempt to promote the sport further as to what stereotypes exist from the casual football/sports fan in the UK.

The coverage from ESPN, while great for the seasoned hockey fan, could most certainly be considered niche. The lack in funding meant that there was little to inform the new fan as to the minutiae of the game. Something highlighted in Liew’s point regarding terminology.

While we all found it to be a fantastic opportunity to watch Team GB and Aaron’s own commentary to be one we all pick up simply through our experience, Liew has highlighted that he, as a new fan, was lost by it. Again, a point for consideration in the future.

In the past some within the Hockey fanbase have unfairly attacked Dave Simms for his approach in media outlets, the community rally round when an “outsider” makes a similar suggestion.

Many of us know how to read the game, know how plays are set and as a puck is passed can see the movement of the passer and the player receiving the pass, something that comes from many years of watching the game. An ability to see a pass without actually needing to look at the puck, a distinct differnce to a game such a s football where the ball is so distinct. Those who cannot see this should not be ridiculed for that!

It was disappointing to read Craig Anderson’s “open letter” to Mr Liew on facebook earlier this afternoon. Once again the jagged approach did very little to retain any point other than how insular and protective we are of the game when it comes under even the most minor of attack. Rather than provide means to resolve Mr Liew’s negative opinions, it attacked his writing style, his qualifications and at one point inferred problems with his eyesight. Disappointing to see someone whose writing has been well respected across the UK hockey community stoop to this level in a means to “protect” the sport. A letter that, in my opinion, did more harm than good.

Where do we go from this? Mr Liew has received an afternoon filled with pointed abuse to the point that his understanding of the attitude of hockey fans may now surpass his understanding of the game.

We as a hockey community need to remember that an ill-informed opinion of hockey is an opportunity to learn and develop a better media presence. Not a reason to attack.

The best means to deal with opinions such as Mr Liew’s is not to tighten the chin-strap but to find a way to promote the game in order to develop a more positive approach. To change opinions, not attack them.

Hockey isn’t for everyone, but those that don’t like it should not be abused for such an opinion.

Mr Liew may have no interest in furthering his knowledge of the game. But we should not consider his opinions to be singular, but see them as a means to understand how to bring more people to the game.

Sadly however, many’s reaction would do little to allow that to happen. And a piece about the negitive aspects of watching the sport on TV has brought to light the negitive aspects of the fanbase.

Patrick Smyth

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2 Comments

  1. Kid Xenon says:

    Surely the point of journalism is to be informative. Unfortunately the article by Mr Liew is more biased propaganda, which is no doubt why it has caused anger. Someone who has no interest in learning about a sport has no right to claim to be a “sports journalist”, never mind be published on the Internet or otherwise by a national newspaper!

  2. dwd says:

    Is it not the case, however, that rather than being a critique of the sport itself, this was a pieve on the sport on TV. An indication of a more rampant viewpoint across the sporting community.

    Thus rather than attack his opinion, we should accept it and try to change it. Sadly the response has created a more negative light around the sport than anything else. Pointing the finger at Mr Liew like it is his fault and it is he who should change of his own accord is completly the wrong means of progression in this. It’s up to us as hockey fans to develop new fans and demonstrate why we love this sport.

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