Welcome back to another edition of Stick to Hockey! Sorry about the hiatus last week (if anyone even noticed?). This has clearly been a great week to be a Leafs fan [Note: I wrote this before game 4, and am now focusing on the game and am unlikely to ever update this], which is something that no one ever really says. As you enjoy the glow of the playoffs, I have some links to bring you down to the less praise-worthy aspects of sports. Unlike in the past few weeks, there isn’t much to unify these links except the fact that sports are as messed up as they are glorious.
This has been a theme in the last few weeks of these links: when a league is run by people who are overwhelmingly white and male, it matters. It means that they will probably mess up on gender issues a lot (like by having offensive Ladies Nights or all but ignoring violence against women). It also means that there will be a lot of pearl-clutching whenever a player who doesn’t fit into that white guy mo(u)ld does something deemed inappropriate (like awesome bat flips— yes I will be inserting this link a lot).
Caitlin Kelly, Vice Sports
There’s a concept in the sociology of work called the “glass cliff,” where “women are often placed in positions of power when the situation is dire, men are uninterested and the likelihood of success is low. As a result, rather than breaking stereotypes about women being poor leaders, that may end up reinforcing them.” Baylor gets exactly zero plaudits from me for glass cliff-ing a woman president.
Zito Madu, SB Nation
So why was Barkley uncomfortable? Because the image of Isaiah Thomas crying before a big game made the theater of sports feel like the smallest thing in the world. Grief had reduced the hero of a proud fan base, a tough and relentless competitor, to his most human. It was jarring to see.
This can’t be dealt with in sports terms, and it shouldn’t need to be.
Patrick Hruby, The Atlantic
As much as it seems like sport is just a reflection of society, Hruby argues here that some of the worst impulses of sports and sports commentary have invaded the news.
Worst of all, ESPN-style political news makes audience amusement its primary goal. The animating questions aren't who gets it right? or even who gets it first? (Please. Those are for starving, low-rated journalists). Instead, the only question that matters is what can keep our hummingbird audience from fluttering away to the Kardashian sisters and Huffington Post photo galleries? As a business model, this makes sense: news-as-entertainment-product competes not simply against itself -- MSNBC versus CNN -- but also against every other cable network, every other website, the same way sports programming does. As a way of producing a responsible self-governing citizenry, however, it's a disaster.
Lindsay Gibbs, ThinkProgress
I kind of hesitate to link to this because everything that 45 (my most hated neighbour) does infuriates me, but I really enjoyed seeing how much smaller the crowd was this time as compared to 2015. What can I say, I’m petty.
Laura Bates, The Guardian
Not sports-related, but this essay struck a chord with me and my experiences of writing about sexism (and other issues) in hockey. I enjoyed this essay and I think you will too.