My response to Jonathan Liew

So today I was pointed towards an article in The Telegraph about Ice Hockey.
My first thought was it must be some mistake.
My second thought after reading said article was that I must be still be asleep as I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Perhaps the least intelligent and laziest piece of journalism I have ever set my eyes upon. All this from Mr Jonathan Liew who won the “Young Sports Writer of the Year Award” in 2011.

My response to his article:

“For another, I can now sit in front of my television on a Friday afternoon and be confronted by live ice hockey.
To be more precise, an Olympic ice hockey qualifier between Great Britain and France on ESPN. Being as inquisitive of nature as I was oblivious of remote-control location, I decided to give it a go. And so began one of the most confusing half-hours I have ever spent in front of an electrical appliance.
The first befuddlement was this: where was the puck? A hockey puck, you see, is just three inches in diameter and can travel at speeds of over 100mph. When it is not zipping across the rink like a photon leaping at superluminal velocity from the violent fission of a radioactive nucleus, it is lost in a whirr of flailing limbs and flying sticks, obscured by large angry men, padded and wadded as if carrying out essential maintenance work to the sun.”

Well you might not be able to spot the puck Jonathan but apparently most of North American can, as well as fans of the KHL(that’s the Russian league by the way), Scandinavia, Czech Republic, Germany and I could go on.

“Attempting to follow the puck made my eyes hurt after a while. Great Britain, meantime, were 3-0 down, which was predictable enough for a country in which ice denotes a potential lawsuit rather than a potential sporting surface. Perhaps they were having trouble locating the puck as well. Perhaps they were being distracted by the frequent blasts of funfair music that accompanied any break in play.”

Perhaps a journalist before watching a new sport should do some research or is that a little too controversial? GB were playing at the very highest level against some very talented teams. But then you wouldn’t know that as you failed to….research. Who am I to judge a professional writer though?

“So I turned to the commentary for guidance. This proved equally baffling. I didn’t catch their names, but the main commentator was an American or a Canadian who had evidently been dared to use as many household objects in his commentary as possible. “Bellemare tries to get it through the tray.
Just whistles right through the crease. France call for it off the point.
Right off the glass. Hecquefeuille! Bombs away!”
The expert summariser was a Briton who clearly had long-standing ties to the sport, but was so devoid of insight as to be practically unlistenable — a sort of Niall Quinn of the rink, if you will. “GB have got to get themselves in this, and that means scoring a goal,” was just one of his many phrases that will ultimately fail to get printed on a commemorative tea-towel.
“Penalty to GB!” the commentator cried. Some good news at last!
Unfortunately, despite its ostensibly tantalising purport, “penalty to GB” meant it was Britain being penalised. Apparently one of the British players had been found guilty of “slashing”, whatever that meant, and had to leave the ice. Off he went to buy himself a toffee apple, and possibly a ride on the whirling waltzer.”

American or Canadian? The accents are very different and quite frankly makes you come across as someone who is ignorant.
You have no knowledge of the sport Jonathan, so why would you expect to understand everything the commentators say?
Do you think an American writer would understand a British commentator talking about Cricket with sayings like “he clipped that through mid-wicket” or the captain is moving his silly mid-off? Is the sarcasm really needed or can you not make a point without using it?

“Then Britain scored. It happened as abruptly as that. Such is the blinding speed of the game that the naked eye is often ill-equipped to keep pace.
All I can tell you is that they were playing ice hockey, just like normal, when all of a sudden the British guys started throwing their arms in the air and embracing. Even after the third replay, I was still none the wiser.”

If you cannot even tell a goal has been scored after watching a 3rd replay then I’m not even sure how you’re a sports writer let alone watcher.

“Likewise, I was content to plead ignorance of the sport as a whole. In an ideal world, I could devote hours and months to studying and appreciating the game: its nuance, its lexicon, its characters. Should ESPN continue its ice hockey coverage, I could even become a regular spectator one day.
But it will never happen, and for this we can blame the dizzying array of choice that modernity has provided us. In this cash-poor, time-poor, post-Olympic landscape, every sport claims to be the best possible use of our time. This has benefits. Never has it been easier to find sport. But by the same token, never has it been harder to discern the indispensable from the inessential; to tell the difference, as it were, between minced beef and minced horse.”

I understand you have been forced/paid to watch a sport you have little time for and I or any other hockey fan does not expect everyone to love the game as we do.
However I would expect a professional journalist to at least research some rules and the teams involved.
Ice Hockey UK and Team GB have done more in the last year to promote the sport than ever before, without any money like Cycling for example enjoys.
A minority sport like hockey struggles enough as it is without a journalist like yourself writing a demeaning article about the game, it’s players and it’s passionate fans. Especially when said journalist writes for a National newspaper and in that respect has a certain amount of power over it’s readers.

I truly hope you are never forced to review Ice Hockey or any other minority sport again in this country.

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2 thoughts on “My response to Jonathan Liew

  1. I came across your article as I was researching on the idiotic writer (not you, then one who wrote the ice hockey piece). He is so thick it beggars belief. Makes thick people looking like Einstein. He tries to be funny but as you said comes across as ignorant. Again, like you said, Young J of the Y…(can’t bring myself to write it). He must have kissed a lot of ass and he is smelling like one now with his articles.

    By the way, I like Ice Hockey. Not to the level of football but enjoy watching it. Support LA Kings following by brother who is a fanatic Kings fan. Finally, after all those barren years, something to grin about….

    1. Well thank you. I just thought it was an awful piece of journalism from someone who should know better. Great to hear that you follow hockey, the more the merrier in the UK!

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