Monday, July 6, 2015

2 comments Rick Telander Finds Something Meaningless to Complain About

One of the last times Rick Telander was heard from on this blog, he was growing more and more discontented with John Fox as the Bears head coach and reminiscing about the days when Bruce Jenner was a manly athlete and not a woman. Rick has a history of complaining about small problems in sports (and apparently others agreed with Rick that the height of the rim was too short in the NBA) and now Rick has noticed that NHL players are sporting playoff beards. Rick says he isn't "splitting hairs" (get it? GET it? GET IT?'s a play on words about a beard consisting of human hair and it's funny...or not) and that the NHL players need to find a new tradition rather than growing playoff beards. Rick wrote this on June 11, which was smack-dab right in the middle of the Blackhawks march to another Stanley Cup title and all he could do was talk about playoff beards and how bad they suck. One would think there are more meaningful columns to be written during this time. One would be wrong.

Is it possible to have a meaningful discussion about Stanley Cup-winning hockey and beards?

No, because they are beards and pretending these players having playoff beards is important in any way is just laughable, no matter what any NBC executive claims otherwise. It's like having a meaningful discussion about whether Chipotle, Moe's, or Qdoba has better food. Everyone knows it's Chipotle, so there is no point in having the conversation. 

In case you missed it, the players on the Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning, who are tied at two victories apiece in the Stanley Cup Final, have beards. (Unless there’s a hairless renegade hiding in the blade-sharpening room, which I don’t believe there is.)

They have beards! Oh no!

And not just beards. They have gross, tangly, unkempt things often referred to as ‘‘neckbeards,’’ historically featured on anti-social mountain men, deceased presidents and biblical characters. And Captain Ahab had a dandy.

I don't think the purpose of these beards is to look attractive, so the argument, "they should be more attractive" fails as a real, cogent argument as to why these beards should be shaved. The beards don't negatively impact how they perform on the ice and somehow presidents, though deceased (no telling on whether it is the fault of their beard for their present condition or not), managed to achieve something while having beards. 

This is a playoff tradition, so to speak, even though its roots (roots?) can be traced back to something as banal as the New York Islanders growing out their whiskers during playoff runs back in the 1980s.

Yes, the Islanders won four Cups during that period, but have you heard from them lately? Plus, former Islanders defenseman Denis Potvin has been quoted as saying none of the hirsuteness was by design.

Oh, well if it wasn't by design then obviously a terrible mistake has been made. Playoff camaraderie as shown by not shaving isn't something that should just happen, camaraderie has to be built purposefully over a period of time. It's not real unless it's planned and contrived.  

‘‘It was just something that kind of happened,’’ he said.

The end of civilization is nigh'. Unplanned beards are popping up everywhere.

None of this would matter, except that fully bearded hockey players look ugly.

Yep, and as I said, if the argument against playoff beards are "they look ugly," then these beards truly don't matter. The players aren't trying to look attractive, they are growing beards to show camaraderie. "You look ugly" is a dumb retort to hockey players essentially saying through the action of not shaving, "We don't care how we look." 

But it’s the essential ugliness and disguise that come with the beardedness that has NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus’ whisker-free face in a grimace.

Oh no, a wealthy television executive is upset. How can he be appeased? Mark Lazarus' opinion on the facial hair of athletes must be addressed and corrected immediately. 

And his opinion matters because NBC Sports has a $2 billion deal to broadcast NHL games.

Actually, Lazarus' opinion still doesn't matter because he doesn't play hockey, isn't married to any of the hockey players and should only care (like the fans do) whether the games are exciting and garnering good ratings. Good ratings do not depend on playoff beards. I can't imagine someone not watching a hockey game because the players' beards are too ugly to look at. It's hockey. Players have broken noses, bloody lips, missing teeth and probably a concussion, being attractive isn't a part of the deal while on the ice. 

Lazarus told sports-media writer Ed Sherman on Tuesday: ‘‘I wish they all would stop growing beards in the postseason. Let’s get their faces out there. Let’s talk about how young and attractive they are, what model citizens they are.’’

You can still talk about how young they are and what model citizens they are. The beard may takeaway attractiveness to some, but I would have to think the big helmet over their head probably hurts the whole "sexy" nature of the sport while it's being played on the ice more than anything else. 

‘‘I think [the beards do] hurt recognition,’’ Lazarus went on. ‘‘They have a great opportunity with more endorsements. Or simply more recognition, with fans saying, ‘That guy looks like the kid next door,’ which many of these guys do.’’

This is a good reason why NFL players have so many problems getting endorsements. What does Russell Wilson even look like? Who knows, because he always has that stupid helmet on his head. Remove the helmet, then maybe an NFL player will have an opportunity to get some endorsements and more recognition. It's the same issue with hockey. Nevermind there is an entire regular season game schedule consisting of 82 games where there are no playoff beards, it's the playoff beards that cause these players to lose endorsements. It seems Mark Lazarus is under the impression there is no regular season in the NHL. 

But I agree with Lazarus — who is, sadly, not related to Sun-Times hockey writer Mark Lazerus — that the beards are dumb and stale.

If anyone knows about things that may be dumb and stale, it's Rick Telander. After all, his writing career is becoming dumb and stale if all he has to discuss in the middle of the Stanley Cup Finals is playoff beards. This is the same Stanley Cup Finals where the hometown team was attempting to win their third Stanley Cup title in less than a decade. Playoff beards, that's what should really be the topic of discussion for a Chicago-based writer though. 

Everybody looks the same with a beard, like genetic splicing run amok.

Perhaps Rick thinks all white people look alike or he has face blindness. I don't watch that much hockey (though I do enjoy it whenever I do) and I can tell the difference in the players. Plus, there are these things on the back of the uniform right above the player's number. It's called "the player's name" which really helps me figure out which players are which. It's the same thing everyone has to use when watching the NFL because it's hard to tell the players apart on the field otherwise. Somehow football fans don't get too confused. Try to pay attention to the names on the back of the uniforms. It may help more than Rick thinks.

My question is this: Why doesn’t a team such as the Hawks have the courage and creativity to do something different with their manliness and be a true difference-making dynasty?

The Blackhawks are not a true difference-making dynasty because they have playoff beards. Obviously.

My question is this: Why should the Blackhawks have to do something different with their manliness and spend time thinking of ways to be courageous and creative when that time could be used figuring out how they will win another Stanley Cup title? Is the Blackhawks' dynasty really going to be dependent on whether they wore playoff beards or not?

‘‘The worst has got to be Teuvo [Teravainen],’’ backup goalie Scott Darling said. ‘‘He’s got the [Justin] Bieber ’stache going. I said, ‘By the time you can actually grow one, it’s going to be illegal.’ ’’

The players enjoy playoff beards. Let them enjoy it and stop being an old man. 

The point is, break away. Do your own thing. Be original.

My advice would be to continue to win hockey games, since that's the entire point of being in the playoffs and all. The Blackhawks are doing their own thing. They are winning Stanley Cup titles, not trying to set a fashion trend. And no, playoff beards aren't holding them back from getting endorsements and or winning "People Magazine's Sexist Man of the Year" award. 

That’s how a team can win titles, too — by thinking outside the, uh, barber’s chair.

Apparently a team can win titles by growing playoff beards, because the Blackhawks have won plenty of Stanley Cup titles when the entire team was growing a playoff beard. And saying they need to "think outside the barber's chair" is an indication the team should not go to the barber's chair, thereby not getting their face shaved. Rick Telander wants hockey players to think inside the barber's chair. Oh, and it's so stupid to equate shaving as a way to win titles. It's just stupid and whether the hockey players shave or not is so irrelevant I don't see how this is an issue for Rick.

Coach Joel Quenneville certainly went all over the place in the Hawks’ victory in Game 4, mixing up his lines as though he had flung a deck of cards in the air.

As we know, we can’t trust either coach to tell us the truth about injuries, strategies or much else. And we won’t know whether Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who was held out of Game 4, will play in Game 5 until the puck drops.

Rick doesn't have enough material to write an entire column on this issue, so he has to go off-topic briefly in order to hit the word count he wants to hit. Modern sports journalism at it's best. Telander writes an uninspired and irrelevant article bemoaning the existence of playoff beards and still has to pad it with enough rambling to hit the required word count.

But back to the beard thing. Think about it, Hawks. Think about a new tradition.

Yes, think about not having playoff beards because Rick Telander doesn't like them. I also like the idea of starting a new tradition, all while Rick provides no real suggestions for a new tradition. Just do it. It's Rick's decree, so make it be.

Be creative. More creative than Rick Telander, who wrote this uninspired column and can't even be creative enough to suggest another playoff tradition. All he is worried about is ensuring the sexiness of the NHL players shines through. Obviously these playoff beards, not the helmets or the fact hockey isn't the most popular sport in the United States, is the reason these players don't get endorsements.

How about reverse bearding? Start the playoffs with a fully grown beard, then reduce it each series — first to a goatee, then to a mustache before finishing with (ta-da!) soul patches.

Right, but the players would have to grow a beard during the regular season, thereby hurting the chances fans will recognize the players, reducing their sexiness and preventing the players from receiving endorsements. So Rick's only solution to growing playoff beards is for NHL players to grow regular season beards. If you know why regular season beards will not hurt endorsements and recognition for NHL players, like Mark Lazarus and Rick Telander claim occurs when playoff beards are grown, then please tell me. It sounds like Rick is suggesting the players grow a beard for a longer period of time during the regular season (in order to grow a full beard) as an alternative to growing playoff beards. Because apparently endorsements and recognition aren't important during the regular season. The regular season consists of a larger number of games than the playoffs by the way. 

And Coach Q? Well, if he had a full beard, we’d know who Santa Claus really is.

Yes, Rick does know dumb and stale best. This last sentence shows this clearly. 


Chris said...

So is that what was holding all of our past presidents back from great success in office. I mean sure Lincoln helped end the civil war but... his neackbeard was disgusting! It nearly made the South secede all over again!

I love how incredibly thick everyone in this article appears to be, the height of this stupidity is Lazarus essentially saying that a person can only be pysically attractive and have no facial hair to be a model citizen. If you have any hint of a 5 o clock shadow then you have instantly become some kind of greasy degenerate who can't possibly have anything positive to contribute to society.

Slag-King said...

Give me those with elaborate beards and 'staches: Goose Gossage, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Brian Wilson, James Harden, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brett Keisel (!).

I have a picture of my great great grandfather whose beard was down to maybe the 3rd or fourth button of his shirt, and it was nicely trimmed too!

Men should wear beards proudly (though not all men look good in beard).