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Who's really responsible?

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I'm writing this from a city/province/region where there are at least as many Boston Bruin fans as Vancouver Canuck fans. Halifax and Boston are practically neighbours; we have a shared history and a relationship that transcends hockey. Bostonians came on trains to help us in 1917 when our city exploded. We send them a giant Christmas tree every year, to say thanks.

We can fly to Boston in an hour and a half and drive there in less than a day. Many of us do, to see the Bruins or the Red Sox or the Celtics play their games.

I tell you this to make the point that the emotion felt in some parts of the country last night, when the Canucks lost game seven, was so far removed from Vancouver's emotion that it just served to prove, once again, how big and diverse this country is.

I won't presume to do such a detailed analysis as Dave Zirin did. He came up with a lot of good reasons for the rioting although there was one glaring omission that he didn't factor in.

This Stanley Cup series was accorded so much more importance than it should have been.  The expectations -- on both the teams and the fans -- were far too high. It is truly shocking, for example, that game seven was seen to be worth the thousands of dollars that some people paid for a ticket.

The responsibility for this can be laid directly at the feet of the corporate media and, I regret to say, of our public broadcaster which stood to profit the most from the enormous audiences that it attracted. For days on end, World Report, CBC radio's major morning newscast, led with a Stanley Cup final story. Even when Canada Post's and Air Canada's workers went out on strike, the headline was hockey, then a strike story, then back to what was clearly considered to be the major event of the news day.

The stories on radio and television and in the newspapers were designed to create a fever pitch of excitement for the one simple reason of attracting more viewers/readers to the advertising, to sell what few tickets there were left at larcenous prices and to create a feeling that this was a not-to-be-missed event. It shouldn't be surprising that the lead-up would end -- fuelled by booze -- in an out-of-control situation.

The left is often accused of "blaming" media when things go wrong. This time, the blame is well-placed.

Meanwhile, media analysts will come up with many theories involving hooligans and anarchists and left-wing pinkos and loonies. They'll never once think to look in the mirror.

Edited to add: 

Three of the comments that showed up on my Facebook announcement of this post added to my theory.  Here they are:

1. . . .CBC radio, at the very least, was warning its listeners that the booze stores in downtown Vancouver were to be closed early. Basically, that drinkers could stock up. They gave plenty of notice. They did not encourage people to buy alcohol, it was more implied.

2. I talked to a friend who lives just outside Van tonight and is a normal kind of Canadian hockey fan. She said she was so driven crazy and sickened by the media lead-up to the final game that she didn't watch it. I was in Van in late May during the San Jose series and I was amazed that the tv media led the news every night, game night or otherwise, with Canucks stories and supposed news. A huge proportion of that reporting gets done from inside sports bars.

3. I'm still angry about having to sit through six minutes of hockey news on The National on Wednesday night before they got to the story about the Canada Post lockout and back-to-work legislation.

Thanks to Cathryn, Elizabeth and Pat.

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