Ever wonder how a spark turns into a bonfire, turns into a brush fire, turns into a grass fire, turns into a prairie fire, turns into an inferno in the forest?
Simple: A writer takes one sentence, he twists it and he turns it and he torques it until its shape suits his agenda and then some editor plops an inflammable headline on top of it. Next thing you know, all hell breaks loose and an athlete, or his hired mouthpiece, has a five-alarm fire to extinguish.
Allow me to show you how fast-and-easy it is to ignite controversy when the media plays fast-and-easy with words:
Last week, a couple of gab guys with Team Radio 1040 in Vancouver tracked down Evander Kane on a golf course. What ensued was a six-minute, 11-second chin-wag in which Jeff Paterson and Stu Walters lobbed questions at the oft-maligned Winnipeg Jets left winger. It was puff stuff, as one might expect from a tete-a-tete conducted in the vicinity of a putting green and on a sun-splashed day on the West Coast. Kane wanted to tee off and the gab guys didn’t want to tee him off. So they all played nice.
There was, however, one moment during the discussion that could have caused a scandal-seeking scribe or editor to stir. Kane was asked about Jets head coach Paul Maurice.
“He’s a fiery guy,” he replied, “but he’s a fair guy and I think that passion that he brings should hopefully rub off in the room with certain guys.”
Aha. Did you just hear what I just heard?
“Hopefully,” PoMo’s passion rubs off on “certain guys” in the Jets boudoir. I think that warrants italics: “Certain” guys.
Could it be that…yes, Kane is telling us that his teammates lack ‘passion!’ Not all of them. Just some of them. “Certain” of them. We don’t know exactly how many of them are passion challenged, and we don’t know their identities, but we can guess because we now know that they exist in the National Hockey League outfit’s boudoir. These players ought to be outed. Kane must name names.
Break out the 72-point type, boys! We’ve got the story for our sports front! Kane’s opened his mouth and inserted his foot again! Make the headline read: Evander Kane calls out teammates; says they lack ‘passion‘.
See how simple that was? I turned one benign sentence into nine words of tabloid-style sizzle and scandal.
Paterson and Walters, for their part, ignored the keg of dynamite sitting on their laps. A golf course, after all, is no place to be going all Mike Wallace and 60 Minutes on a hockey player during his summer down time. So they recognized the comment for what it was worth: nothing. It’s a basic reality that some athletes perform with a higher level of passion than others. Nothing to see there.
Quite frankly, I’m more interested in why Kane’s voice has found its way on to Vancouver air twice in the past half dozen weeks, yet I haven’t heard a peep from him on River City radio or in Pegtown print in that time.
I realize, of course, that he summers in Lotus Land, with a side trip or two to take some provocative selfies in Las Vegas, but that doesn’t explain why Winnipeg radio doesn’t get him on its air. Now that I think of it, though…perhaps they can’t get him. Could it be that Kane has declared local air space to be a no-speak zone. Is he boycotting the local media?
Surely that’s it. Kane repeatedly appears on Vancouver radio because that’s where he wants to play. It’s part of his plot to engineer a trade to his hometown Canucks.
Now that’s positively scandalous! Break out the 72-point type again, boys—not!
Patti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old, comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she doesn’t know when to quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C.