The Reuters global sports blog
In North America sports culture summer is the time for baseball. The MLB season kicks off in early April and for the most part flies under the radar for the first few months as fans’ attention is focused on the NBA playoffs, the NFL draft and to a lesser extend the NHL playoffs.
By the middle of June an NBA champion is crowned, (sorry LeBron, maybe next year with your new team) the NFL is as far removed from the ever watchful media’s eye as it ever is, (thank you Brian Cushing, OTA’s were still a few weeks away) and the NHL playoff run receives unprecedented media coverage…in Canada.
But when the middle June rolls around this year a disturbing trend will begin making headlines, one that could dominate baseball for the rest of the season.
Passion for sport is no greater or less in North America than in other countries but there is a difference. The focus here is unashamedly on the domestic, with an ambivalent attitude among many fans about what the rest of the sports world is doing or thinks.
On the same day that Woods held his first media conference before this month’s US Masters at Augusta, an event that was streamed live around the globe, the hottest topic of conversation in North America was who would win that night’s college basketball final between Duke and Butler.
For the third straight year, the National Hockey League hit all the right notes at its annual outdoor extravaganza at one of baseball’s most revered shrines: Fenway Park. The Boston Bruins fought back to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime in front of nearly 40,000 fans.
“It was neat,” Boston defenseman Derek Morris said. “We were trying to yell and scream to each other, but you couldn’t hear yourself it was so loud. It was amazing. We wanted to win that game for the fans. It’s a fairy-tale ending. It was pretty special.”
A phone survey commissioned by the NFL last September reported that diagnosis rates of Alzheimer’s and other memory-related diseases among former players appeared to be much higher than in the population as a whole — five times the national rate for men aged 50 and above, and 19 times for men aged 30 to 49.
The NFL’s response was to point to the limitations of that telephone survey, saying its own study on the long-term effects of concussion would provide a much better picture, but facing growing criticism from outside experts, the players union and members of Congress, the League’s stance now appears to be somewhat different.
It’s hard to predict who will become Captain Canada, when Canada hasn’t even picked a team.But who will lead Canada’s men’s hockey team into battle at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics will spark more debate than who will be the hockey mad country’s next Prime Minister.
With 46 of Canada’s best taking part in last week’s national team orientation camp you could not swing a hockey stick without hitting a worthy candidate.
Pittsburgh held a parade on Monday to celebrate the Penguins’ Stanley Cup triumph along the same route that the Super Bowl trophy was carried in triumph by the NFL’s Steelers in January.
It was the second time the city had claimed two of North America’s four top team sport prizes – the Superbowl, World Series, NBA championship and Stanley Cup — in the same calendar year after 1979, when the Steelers were NFL champions and the Pirates won Major League Baseball’s World Series.
The Pittsburgh Penguins won their third Stanley Cup on Friday night with a 2-1 defeat of the defending champion Detroit Red Wings in Game Seven of the finals series.
A good evening for co-owner and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux, who many credit with saving the franchise or keeping it in Pittsburgh at least.
Balsillie has tried twice in recent years to buy a hockey team, only to be blocked by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who this week assured people there was nothing personal between him and Balsillie. Balsillie is currently locked in a court battle with the NHL in his efforts to move the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton.
The official name for the tournament is the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship. But its real motive seems to be to cram 10,000 people into a covered a arena and then subject them to over two hours of Euro-rock crowd pleasers.
Imagine a soccer match being interrupted at every free kick, corner, throw-in and goal by a burst of music, usually of questionable taste, and you start to get the picture.