Monday, January 21, 2008

The Patented Chris-Check

CH returns with The Patented Chris-Check to ease your hockey jones.

Spurred on by the allegations a few months ago of Sean Avery ridiculing Jason Blake’s cancer, I’ve decided to look in to the world of trash talk and come up with some guidelines on what is appropriate and what isn’t. Darcy-Tucker-character-defamation-theories aside (what better way to make someone look like the biggest ass in the world, than by claiming they ridiculed the big C?), more than likely Sean Avery did say what he was accused of. I, like all other fans, hate him. But one can’t argue with the results – Avery ended up with the GWG, got Tucker to take stupid penalties, and ultimately frazzled the Leafs and took their focus off of hockey.

An aside:

Without knowing him personally, and not being able to back this up, I have a theory: Toronto Maple Leaf forward Jason Blake is a jerk.

Yes, that Jason Blake. The one with a rare form of cancer who continues to play in the NHL. Bad things have been known to not only happen to good people. Avery is a jerk, but I find it extremely hard to believe anyone would call Blake out on this without being overly provoked. Then just a few weeks ago Downie gives Blake a reverse hammer-punch to the face, while he is being held by a linesman. Even for Downie, this seems a little extreme under the circumstances. Downie was somehow not kicked out of the game, yet there was no comeuppance whatsoever delivered by any of the Leafs. You’ve got to wonder when no one on the team comes to Blake’s aid under the circumstances. Perhaps they’re sick of backing him up.

End of aside.

How personal should trash talking be? If you’re going to go as far as Avery did, you would think it would be in a little more important of a situation than one of eighty-two regular season games.

No one can argue with the results of Materazzi using personal insults on Zidane in the 2006 World Cup final. If you knew badmouthing someone’s mother and sister would preserve a World Cup title, you’d say it too. Then again, without the benefit of hindsight, and not knowing Zidane would take the most ridiculously obvious red card I have ever seen, would you be able to say something that personally hurtful on the off-chance a fellow competitor won’t just simply brush it off? Probably not, but the line of appropriateness is obviously blurred in multi-million dollar professional sports. In professional sports I’d say playoff games of any kind put most rules out the window.

Unless it’s the race card, or knowledge of real issues with someone’s children - nothing is off limits. It’s a disservice to a city and your team’s fans if you withhold inside information that could gain an edge with your opponent.

Religion? If mentioning your teddy bear’s name is Mohammed gets the other team a red card, why not go there? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be 40 to be a man. Victims of trash talk really need to suck it up for the sake of their team. If parking officers can take it, why can’t a professional athlete?

But where does this leave the average folk reading this column?

In rec sports and weekend warrior games, anything beyond mild ridicule to a team’s most aggressive and skilled players is probably going to be seen as too far. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be done. It is part of being competitive, and I daresay, one of the more enjoyable aspects of amateur sport – within limits.

First of all, it should be used as a reactive measure. Proactive trash talk in beer league isn’t going to make you any friends on the other team or your own. But if some smarmy dude is rubbing out players and being an ass, he’s fair game.

Secondly, at this level personal insults aren’t necessary. The best way to get into someone’s head is to comment on actions and stupid plays. Some old standby’s are people with bad haircuts, or commenting on the score board. If using the scoreboard, make sure you are at least somewhat responsible for your team’s good fortunes. No one likes an arrogant ankle skater.

Even more effective than these, is a mocking in front of others - even if it's not directly related to how someone looks or plays. People don’t like to get laughed at, even if it has nothing to do with their ability or personal lives. For example: Were your parents cousins who also sucked at baseball? The possibilities are endless, and are best left as spur of the moment.

I for one am intrigued by the art, and only wish that helmet mics in the NFL and CFL actually let us hear what is being said out on the field, instead of being used for witty team mate chit chat, and the noise of shoulder pad collisions. I bet soccer has by far the most personal trash talk, especially on the international stage where blind patriotism often gives a free pass to racism.

I could go on and on with this subject, but won’t until further inspired. If you’ve read up to this point, congratulations on making it through 850 words of drivel – loser.


Trebor said...

So religon is fair game.... you say that as someone who is not religous though ?? I would put religon up with the race card...

Anonymous said...

Fair enough Trebor. But I really do think it's about time religion was off the untouchable list. It's not a disease or anything outside of someone's control. Make fun of my atheism on the pitch if you'd like. Tell me i'm not going to heaven with the chosen ones - doesn't really bother me. Why does everyone need to be so sensitive about their religious beliefs?

I bet it's the number one mocked subject amongst international soccer players. God doesn't care which team wins, no matter what the prayer circle on each team thinks. Religion doesn't belong in sports or politics, and if i was a professional athlete i would mock those who brought it in, if it gave my team an edge.


Luke said...

I, for one, am willing to accept CH as an authority on the subject of trash talking. He was able to goad an opposing playing into calling him The C Word in a recreational soccer game on Saturday night - even though that was a phenomenal overreaction on that dudes part.

Jeff K said...

Just a quick note on Religion. This is a true story.

I seem to recall playing a floor hockey game with many of the sports as life readers/writters (or at least I am pretty sure some of these names I see were on that team). If you need a refresher, we were the WORST team in the league and went winless for the season.

I recall a game against the Bible College where there was some serious trash talk by members of our team based around religion. I don't remember who was saying what (although I think Jesus made an appearance in some of the comments), I can tell you how that game ended.

It was either in OT or the last minute of play that the Bible College called a time out and prayed for what I can only assume was victory. They litteraly gathered in a circle an prayed. This was of course mocked by many on our bench. I think you see where this is going. Almost immediatley after the prayer session was over, we were scored on.

So, I can say this as someone who is less than religious...That particular day, it would appear that God did care who won. Ha.

The moral of this tale may be to leave religion out of the trash talk...because you never know.

Luke said...

That is a true story - although I believe we did have one win that season... or at least a tie. Or possibly both.

The only positive that came out of the Bible College game (at least for me), was that I did give those female fans a particularly savage verbal abusing in the parking lot after the game.

Probably doesn't say much about me that I remember that fondly.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I suppose we were smited. It was a phantom goal too, from about half. I think it thread the needle through about 8 sets of legs on its way to the net.

That entire game was a textbook case for when to shut up. I learned my lesson, or at least i hope i did. When the other team turns the other cheek it's time to stop the trash talk. I do remember pulling out all the trash talking stops in that game and saying a couple of things I'm not proud of. They wouldn't give me the satisfaction of saying anything back.

They knew they'd have the last laugh when they eventually got married to their 14 year old girlfriends in attendance, and lose their virginity at a time it was no longered hampered with the adjective of "statuatory". Oops, guess i still am holding a little resentment over that praying time out.

Luke's verbal assault on the shriekers was one of the highlights of the season for me. No one remembers the games where we played valiantly with our mouths closed, then shook hands at the end of the game. The bible college game lives in infamy, which I suppose in hindsight justifies the existence of our harsh words, and justifies their belief that all heathens will burn in hell.


Anonymous said...

And for the record, they prayed and received a tying goal. Not even for victory. Kind of a stupid time to use up one of your solids from the Big Guy.

So we did end up with a tie that game, one of two on the season I believe. We did win one game that season too, and I'm proud to say it had a lot to do with my ridiculing of the hoser who smacked his stick against the boards and yelled "JESUS" after missing a shot on goal. The GWG play resulted in his reactionary penalty from cross checking Mitch during our goal celebration. Good times.


Trebor said...

Chris brought up a good point in between looking back on the floor hocky league. What do you do when you dont get a reaction ??

I'm not a trash talker, not very good at it, not quick on my feet but playing sports i've played against those qho are quick with the jabs. I wouldn't respond I'd just laugh with them smile then get back to playing.

Not all the time but a few memories date back to guys who would get angry with this... one guy even came at me after the game..... he was saying i'm gonna kill you and all that, and i just smiled, chuckled.

Of course i did my best to embarass them, which probably didnt help... between the legs and other fancy moves, maybe getting an elbow up here or there, or shooting at the guy's head when he's nowhere near the net.....I found those tactics to work a lot better.

Jeff K said...

I stand corrected. Now that you mention it I do think the goal was to tie the game...but for a team that went winless (I don't remember winning a game) I don't think it was trivial. I know seem to remember it as "we might actually get a win"...[goal is scored]..."@#&%$&%!!!!!"

In any case, that was hilarious. Also, I now remember Luke giving it to the heckling girls in the bleachers...I just wish I could remember what he said. I am guessing that it is R rated?


Walks said...

Chris your right most everything is fair game in the world of trash talk in sport. I supprised Chris that you didn't make mention of my Mike "Pinball" Clemons jewel. I might draw the line at religon though?

Anonymous said...

That was a classic Walker.

But let me understand this - you're okay about telling the most beloved CFL personality that you fornicated with his wife, but you'd draw the line at asking him how Jesus allowed his last fumble to happen?


Walks said...

Save me Jeebus!

Mitch said...

First of all, Blake cannot possibly be a jerk. He has cancer. He is a hero. I am also a little disappointed with the lack of Player/Coach Reg Dunlop quotes

I do remember Luke attempting to goad the shriekers into a physical altercation in the parking lot after the infamous church floor- hockey game. I also remember CH loudly mocking the team, yelling, "we're losing to a bunch of virgins." You truly are one of the best yackers in the game, although I am not sure that you always follow your own rules. Some of those guys were just good. Remember the guy that proposed to his g/f at BP's? He must have regretted scoring double digit goals everytime we met. I think I drew as many penalties as anyone and was considered a jerk of the league without all the talk. I never got kicked out of an oldtimers floor hockey game though like some people. Although I did aid in getting them ended early.

Where's Jeff? Ohh he's already in the dressing room.