Spot The Difference

In his latest article Paul discusses the off-season and post-game interviews.

I did one of those tests once that is supposed to work out what you’re good at and then work out what job you should do. You know the sort of thing I mean. Normally, I like tests like that because you can’t fail them, except with that one I sort of did. It couldn’t work out from my answers where my strengths lay. I had no discernible talents, which probably wasn’t a very nice way of putting it but was quite possibly about right. I know I can’t sing, I draw like a five year old and my sporting prowess began and ended with a decent innings in a school stoolball game sometime in the late 1970s. There might be things out there that I’m good at but after all these years they’ve managed to elude me. So, when I look at people who have a clearly defined talent I feel a bit, for want of a better word, different. It’s like you’re a poor Victorian urchin pressing your nose up against the frosted windows watching the children of the lord of the manor unwrap their presents on Christmas morning.

By now you’re probably thinking “So he’s different. So what? Why’s he telling me all this? I don’t want to know” and I can’t say that I blame you. I’d be thinking the same, in fact I probably wouldn’t still be reading this so thanks for sticking around (if you have). The reason I’m telling you this is because the realisation that I’m different got me thinking about ways in which I’m different and, that in turn, got me thinking about ways in which I might be different to other ice hockey fans and that brought me round, eventually to where we are now, the off-season.

The thing is, I quite like the off-season. I really don’t mind it. There are things I don’t like about it, and they’re probably different to what you don’t like about it and that’s OK. Different doesn’t mean wrong, it just means different.

So, why do I like the off-season? Basically, I like it because it’s a break from ice hockey. A chance to do something else essentially, to get away from thoughts of the league position, who’s playing with who or when the next shirt auction will be. In the off-season you can get away from all that if you want. Think of it as a trip to Alton Towers (other theme parks are available but I don’t know as much about their layouts which is quite important). You can spend all day going on the rides, running from Air to Rita to Nemesis. You’ll enjoy all the thrills, the ups and downs of a rollercoaster ride but there comes a time, at least for me where you just want to go for a wander through the gardens, have a look at the pagoda, just smell the flowers for a few minutes before heading back into the hurly burly of Hex and Oblivion. For me the off-season is that walk around the gardens.

I don’t particularly miss ice hockey out of season. I’m not saying I don’t think about it, a steady stream of tweets and website updates ensure that, but I don’t sit there counting the number of days until the season starts again. Maybe it’s age, maybe I’m at that stage in my relationship with the club or sport (now there’s definitely an article in that) but I just don’t feel that something is missing from my life if I’m not watching a game.

This is going to sound odd but if we’re talking about things I don’t like that everyone else does then we’ve got to bring up the subject of post-game player interviews. This isn’t just ice hockey related, it applies to all sports. I know people like them but I just don’t get the point of sticking a microphone under a player that has just won a trophy (be it the play-offs, FA Cup, the Johnstone Paint trophy, the Aladdin Cup…OK maybe not) and ask them how they feel. What are they going to say? Are they going to turn round and say they’re finding the whole thing a bit underwhelming and nowhere near as much fun as they thought it was going to be? Of course not. What about after a defeat? Are they going to say how well they thought they performed? Probably not. Look how refreshing people think it is when a coach admits his team were outplayed. Is that because it is genuinely refreshing or simply because we hear what they’re actually thinking so rarely?

The same goes for new player interviews. Are they going to say that Nottingham (or wherever) were the only team that offered them a contract (if that’s the case) or that they’ve heard Coventry (or wherever) isn’t the most exciting place in the world, they’ve already fallen out with the coach and will be doing their level best to coast through as much of the season as possible? Of course not, they’re going to trot out the usual stuff about being excited, that they’ve heard nothing but good things about the club, the city, the fans and they’ve already had loads of great conversations with the coach and can’t wait to get started. I know people lap these up, I’ve seen countless messages about how good it is that player X is really up for the challenge. They might be, they probably are, but you can’t really come to that conclusion purely on what they say in that first interview.

So what can be done? Nothing really, and I’m not entirely sure I’m saying that anything should. These interviews give (other) people what they want to hear and that’s good, I’ll just have to wait for the ones that ask the questions that give the deeper more thoughtful answers (check out the BBC Radio Nottingham interview with Cam Janssen after the Tyson Marsh fight to see what I mean).

You can follow Paul on Twitter @MrBalm

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