Saturday, December 6, 2014

Remembering Jean Beliveau

Monsieur Béliveau was 83 when he passed away. I knew that he was getting older, and that he wasn't getting any healthier. I still hoped that he would live forever, even though I knew that Habs fans were lucky to have him around for so long.
Photo from the Canadiens Children's Foundation
I know that I'm a few days late with this tribute. I wanted to take the extra time to think about it, to avoid the clichés and platitudes that are so often thrown out there without sincere emotion to back them up. Like any good Habs fan, I loved Jean Béliveau. When I had to choose the greatest Canadian Habs player for a certain big hockey site, I almost immediately went with my gut. It was a no-brainer, one of the easiest decisions I've made as a hockey writer. I don't think I can ever say enough about everything he's done both on and off the ice.

Every time there's a jersey retirement, a montage, anything about the Habs dynasties of the 1950s and 60s, my mom tells me that my grandfather loved those players. (I've mentioned this already, I know.) I don't really remember my grandfather talking about them, so all I have are my mother's memories. Seeing Jean Béliveau always made me think of that - my grandfather learning about hockey, living in this city when the Habs won Cups (18 of them, to be exact), and watching them in black and white on his very first television. Béliveau's work ethic, his kindness, his dedication to family - all of these things reminded me of my grandfather. That's why his passing was so difficult for me. I had to say goodbye to not only a great man, but a great man who reminded me of someone I loved very much.

Unfortunately there's nothing I can do now but offer my condolences to the Béliveau family, and hope that someday the hockey world will be lucky enough to see another player like him.

Edited to add: I found this piece from 2010, after he suffered a stroke. I bookmarked it because I couldn't bring myself to read it then, and still can't.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

I Don't Care If You Think It's Cool

By now, I'm used to the reactions I get when I express my enthusiasm for Movember. People think I'm funny and strange just because I encourage people to grow mustaches, and I wear mustache accessories, and I spend an entire month trying to raise money for a worthy cause: cancer, mental illness, and the overall health of men.

Things are different this year. Interest in Movember has been waning, and this is probably the weakest year I've seen so far. The movement isn't at its peak anymore; not everyone you know is growing a mustache, or explaining why he didn't grow one and offering to donate instead. Not as many businesses are using it as a marketing opportunity. It's like Movember "isn't cool anymore," and people don't want to participate in something that's not cool.

That's not an excuse. This isn't a band or a sports team whose bandwagon you can hop off of when it stops trending on Twitter. Which, by the way? People are still buying Maroon 5 albums, or watching Grey's Anatomy, or cheering for the Oakland Raiders. What's so passé about staying committed to an annual fundraiser? Given the choice, I'd definitely donate money to cancer research over lining the pockets of a judge on The Voice or paying some athlete to gas up his Lincoln. (Are Lincolns still cool, or...?)

"It's not cool anymore" isn't really a great excuse. Movember supports causes that matter. That hasn't changed since last year or the year before. Over 23, 000 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. An estimated 1000 Canadian men, most of them young, will be diagnosed with testicular cancer this year. And discussions about mental health have finally really started to take their place in the public sphere. We can't stop now. It's too important.

"Cool" is for food trends and sneaker styles. Not for saving lives. Support your local Mo Bros, Mo Sistas, cancer patients, and the men in your life.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Season premiere day!

I feel like I should be really excited about the season starting. The primary reason for that is because I just want to talk about hockey instead of all the drama surrounding its players, media and fans.

Last month, Hab It Her Way quietly celebrated its fifth anniversary. For the last five years, I've had a public medium to express the pride and excitement I feel as a female hockey fan. (Or rather, a hockey fan.) Somehow, the hockey world always seems more enjoyable when we’re discussing mock drafts or highlights, rather than choosing to take sides during a debate and refusing to listen to each other, like angry children. Unfortunately, that’s what it often comes to, and the drama is only exacerbated by a lack of real hockey news to take its place. I saw it happen over the summer, at the beginning of the NFL season, and again just this past weekend. It's exhausting, and while I know that some problems and debates will never go away, it will at least help when we have hockey around to do what sports do best – give us something to cheer for, to pin our hopes on, to laugh about without any real-world consequence.

It’s why I've been blogging for the last five years (sometimes more regularly than others.) And it's why I’ll keep watching sports, despite all the drama and bad blood. So let's just drop the puck and have some fun. Here’s to another season of big dreams, big surprises, and big changes.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll return to my pit of denial in which Josh Gorges is still a Montreal Canadien.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What happens after #IsItOctoberYet

Is it October yet?

Wait, are you sure?

September doesn't have a 31st?

Okay let me check my calendar

Wow, I really never knew that

But is it, like, OCTOBER October?

Like, is there hockey?

No, like, is there HOCKEY?

No, that doesn't count. It doesn't! Stop looking at me like that!

Next week? But it's October now!

False advertising.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Summer Reading Project: The Smart Girl's Guide to Designated Hitters

The Hab It Her Way Summer Reading Project is my way of sharing the misery that is reading The Smart Girl's Guide to Sports, which cost $2. Let's laugh at this together.

Mo'Ne Davis would write an awesome chapter on baseball.
The chapter on baseball is, appropriately, interminable. I could take this chapter to a baseball game and I would likely need some extra innings to finish it, and that's not even including the time it takes to roll my eyes at a lame joke, close the book, and wonder why I'm putting myself through this.
(It should also be noted that I obviously didn't take this book to a baseball game, as evidenced by its pages, completely unstained by sauerkraut and ice cream.)
The chapter begins with a few paragraphs explaining why baseball is interesting. And yet I remain unconvinced. The author even tries to compare it to chess, which I have heard a hundred times before - wouldn't I just play chess on the regular if I really liked it as a game? If I'm not a fan of chess, will society at large give me a free pass for not being a fan of televised baseball? So many unanswered questions.

I did learn something from this chapter: That the tradition of the seventh-inning stretch originated with rotund American president William Howard Taft, who stood up during a game to stretch his legs.
Hey, Mr. President: Maybe remove that super-tall top hat? Someone paid for that seat behind you.
The author could also afford to learn something: she doesn't seem to know what a designated hitter is. (I didn't know until a couple of years ago, but now I know, and feel as though I should teach her.) She seems to think that a designated hitter is the sporting equivalent of having someone who can go to work for you on a day that you're too grouchy to do your own job. As far as I know, that's not it at all. A designated hitter is more like the professional equivalent of my old job, where I managed Facebook and Twitter accounts for a boss who thought that a Twitter account didn't need to have more than five tweets on it at a time. Her job was to coordinate the stuff that we were promoting on social media. My job was to make sure our social media presence was... well, present. Pitchers pitch and designated hitters are designated to hit. How hard is that to understand?

This might just be a personal gripe, but the "Legends" section was the worst thing in the whole chapter. The section does not appear to put its legends in any particular order, but I'm going to get irrationally angry about one thing anyway. The author put Mark McGwire's bio before Jackie Robinson's. HOW AND WHY? This is Jackie Robinson we are talking about - an athlete who broke the colour barrier at a time when the colour barrier was awfully hard to break, a man whose resilient spirit was matched only by his talent, a man whose memory is honoured to this day in cities all over North America. You do not put anyone ahead of Jackie Robinson. I don't care how "American as apple pie" he is, or that he used steroids to break a record right before a "dark-skinned Dominican" did. (Sammy Sosa, by the way, is considered a "legend in the making.")

If this book was written in 2014: You already know that I'm going to say it should be all about Mo'Ne Davis. But it would probably be all about Derek Jeter's retirement and the not-a-joke hashtag #RE2PECT.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Thinking Beyond PR Moves

At this point, I'm not surprised when someone who's made lots of money from professional sports is in the news for all the wrong reasons. It's not just NFL players - after the "scandals" surrounding Donald Sterling, Stephen A. Smith, and Semyon Varlamov, we'd all be incredibly short-sighted to think that way. However, I'm always amazed at the way people react to such occurrences. Ray Rice's firing yesterday was another such event.

This isn't something that just happened recently - the incident occurred months ago, and a lot of people were upset about it, and wanted to see Rice punished more severely. It was talked about during the offseason when the NFL started to do damage control. This public anger really only hit critical mass when a tape was leaked, and then suddenly everyone knew just how wrong it was, and got up in arms about how badly the Baltimore Ravens needed to terminate his contract. Which they did, in what a lot of people called a PR move.

"They didn't fire him because it was the right thing to do," came the cry from all corners of the Internet. "They fired him because he was damaging their brand!" Thank you, Captain Obvious. Anyone who knows that the events caught on tape didn't happen last week knows that the Ravens took an awfully long time to fire someone who beat the woman he claimed to love. Ray Rice was fired because the general public - everyone, even people who don't want football - was shocked and offended.

Why did it take us so long to become so shocked? Why did we have to wait until TMZ released video evidence of Rice punching his fiancée to realize that he had done something wrong? If there had been no video evidence, there is at least a slim chance that Ray Rice would not have been fired at all. And that, to me, is the scariest part of all this.

It's time for us all to stop waiting until it's too late to speak up or make a real difference.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Summer Reading Project: The Smart Girl's Guide to Quarterbacks

The Hab It Her Way Summer Reading Project is my way of sharing the misery that is reading The Smart Girl's Guide to Sports, which cost $2. Let's laugh at this together.

I think I might be a glutton for punishment. I could have just put down this book after the offensive intro and the questionable chapter about basketball. I'll admit that I learned a few things, but I'm not sure it was worth it. To put this in terms more familiar to the audience of The Smart Girl's Guide, it was like going all the way to another neighbourhood for a sample sale and only scoring one blouse.
(I can't remember the last time I even wore a blouse. I'm more of a novelty T-shirt kind of Smart Girl.)

Anyway, I decided to press on and give the football chapter a read. I had read a few pages of it when I bought the book some years back, hoping to bring my football knowledge a little bit further than "ten yards in four downs." I learned a few things, but I never finished the chapter. Now I know why. Like the rest of the book, it's informative, but quite eyeroll-inducing. Now, it's worth mentioning that the author seems to have a particular fondness for football, if you can call it that. It was her gateway sport - she was surrounded by football fans and decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. You may remember that her gushing about Jerry Rice is what got her in the good graces of a man she knows!

There was quite a bit of information in this chapter. My first reading of it taught me about two-point conversions, because I didn't remember seeing one happen until that point. This reading revealed a lot more information about a few elements of the game, but of course it was all buried under pounds and pounds of mansplaining. One joke gave me hope that this chapter might be different from the rest: "Women tackle problems. Men tackle each other."
"Yeah, let's tackle some problems like the smart girls we are!"
But then the rest of the chapter had jokes about how a man buying a woman flowers and jewelry can facilitate "scoring." I thought that this book was supposed to be for women - did she write it specifically for women who are also characters on Entourage? Is that why there are entire paragraphs about whose butts you should look at and whose butts are not worth looking at?
There are some very useful bits in this chapter (like a guide to rivalries and explanations of a few key terms) but that didn't stop me from gasping in abject horror at the worst things in the whole chapter. Because there are two of them. One: If there are only two things you learn about Joe Montana, the second (and most important!) is that he has "the most gorgeous ice-blue eyes ever seen in the NFL." (The first thing you need to know is that he's good at football.) Two: The author literally gives readers a word-for-word quote of a sports-savvy thing they can say. Which... really? I'm not sure that putting words into someone's mouth is a good idea. Especially not if you're just spotting them one sentence. Who says one sentence and just walks away from a conversation? Smart Girls of the world: Don't say something because someone wrote it for you word-for-word, unless that person is your presidential speechwriter.

If this book was written in 2014: It would probably still be all about Tom Brady, because he's the most quarterbackiest handsomest of all the QBs in the NFL (because the other ones don't have pretty eyes like Brady has pretty eyes.)
Any mention of the Redskins' name would go beyond some Cowboys fans (due to rivalry) "would say their logo is politically incorrect."
I'm not sure what she would say about Peyton Manning's Broncos getting shellacked at the Super Bowl, but I sure as hell wish I could read it.