FanDuel - WFBC

February 14, 2006

Ruggiero: Canadian women should tone it down: In what almost frighteningly mirrors men's hockey at the inaugural Winter Olympics in Chamonix, the unavoidable gold medal showdown between Canada and the USA is sparking some lively debate as to whether there is a place in the Olympics for lopsided victories or top-heavy sports at all.

posted by Spitztengle to other at 02:20 PM - 33 comments

Good post, but we discussed this yesterday.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 02:36 PM on February 14

The Canadian women should assert themselves and play their best. The problem isn't their excellence. The problem is that there simply isn't any real competition -- and right now shouldn't be an Olympic event until there are federations around the world that can field competitive teams -- but an even bigger worry for those of us living in Canada is that somehow the CBC has gotten it into their heads that Canadians need to see every shift and every minute of every period televised live in its entirety. (Even NBC doesn't do that for men's Olympic basketball.) So while we're deep into 3rd periods with 10-goal leads that deserve game stoppages via the Mercy Rule -- and worse, when there're actual GOLD medals up for grabs in different sports at the exact same time as these comparatively meaningless hockey prelims -- CBC thinks a boring game with Canada pummeling Italy by double-digits is a breathless riveting priority. It isn't. It's garbage. I'll bet watching NFL linemen throw schoolboys around a line of scrimmage might be exciting for 5 minutes and entertaining for another 10, but then it gets boring real fast. I'll be glued to the tube for the Gold medal final, but comprehensive coverage of these preliminary contests is a sad joke that is actually doing more damage to the womens sport than any good.

posted by the red terror at 03:16 PM on February 14

agreed except the NFL part should be measured in seconds

posted by theart at 04:09 PM on February 14

"In what almost frighteningly mirrors men's hockey at the inaugural Winter Olympics in Chamonix..." I didn't catch that comment in the actual link, but in any event, it's a long shout from Chamonix. Sure, Canada ran up mammoth scores at that games in the same way that early Michigan Wolverines dominated college football in its infancy, but that first Winter Olympic Games was an experiment with no precedent. There was no global television and athletes travelled by ship, not airliners. Very few nations actually participated in those games, and fewer still were the numbers of Olympic athletes that were female. By contrast, in 2006 womens hockey is no longer an Olympic experiment, with our heels clicking and wishing the game would grow globally. We're into the third womens Olympic hockey tournament, and we've discovered with near total certainty that only two nations out of 82 that send athletes to the Winter Olympics are even competent (let alone excel) at the sport.

posted by the red terror at 04:34 PM on February 14

Good post, but we discussed this yesterday. I have to humbaly disagree. While we did discuss the fact that most of the games are a bore, it was not focased on if Canada should be running up scores. While my only coaching experience is in youth sports (soccer and baseball) when we have large lead I tell my kids to focas on passing skills and play set up. Not to go for goal any more. I realize these are adults in the Olympics but still I have to question putting up as many points as the Canadians have been against lesser apponants

posted by Folkways at 05:07 PM on February 14

I'll bet watching NFL linemen throw schoolboys around a line of scrimmage might be exciting for 5 minutes and entertaining for another 10, but then it gets boring real fast. Well, maybe this makes me a jerk, Red terror, but I could watch that for at least an hour.

posted by Samsonov14 at 05:35 PM on February 14

... Then I'd have to join in.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:09 PM on February 14

From the article, and noted many other places: In this tournament, tiebreakers are decided first by the deadlocked teams' record against each other and then by goal differential. That differential can determine which team has home-ice advantage in the medal round. So Canada should throw away home-team advantage (last change) in the gold-medal game, just to be nice? Folkways, you tell your kids to let up because there is no point in scoring more; here Canada is actually playing strategically for the gold medal game. It isn't their fault that the rules encourage them to beat everybody as badly as possible.

posted by Amateur at 08:26 PM on February 14

Amateur, you beat me by one minute. So now, all I'm left with is: what Amateur said.

posted by alex_reno at 08:31 PM on February 14

Actually Amateur, the way the teams can achieve home-team advantage is not by goal differential. It goes by the world rankings, which canada is number one so they pretty much have home ice locked up. So there is no need to run up the score the way they did against a very young and inexperienced team like the Italians.

posted by btheat17 at 09:21 PM on February 14

It does not btheat17 - it's determined by stats from the tournament itself not world rankings. They should change the rules to avoid this problem in the future.

posted by mikelbyl at 10:35 PM on February 14

Keep firing the puck at the net. If it goes in, it goes in. You don't lower yourself to the competition. Keep attacking and let the lesser teams learn to play defense. Just passing the puck around and playing keep away would do more to humilate the other team. I think womens hockey deserves a spot in the olympics. It would be one thing if only a few teams were showing up, but there are enough teams to keep it around. The competition will eventually get better.

posted by njsk8r20 at 07:51 AM on February 15

Ah, the Italians stated goal going into that game was to not get 20 scored against them. The only people shocked about these outcomes are we spectators. Ruggiero is a vet who seems to me is employing some gamesmanship leading up to the gold medal game. You know, get the Italian crowd behind the US. Smart woman.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:52 AM on February 15

btheat, if that's true, it contradicts everything I've seen in the papers or on (Canadian) TV since this whole controversy was manufactured.

posted by Amateur at 08:16 AM on February 15

My thoughts exactly, Weedy. Ruggiero is just preparing that last game. Now, the Italian men are a lot better than I would have thought.

posted by qbert72 at 08:16 AM on February 15

"I think womens hockey deserves a spot in the olympics. It would be one thing if only a few teams were showing up, but there are enough teams to keep it around. The competition will eventually get better." Not good enough. The Olympics should celebrate sports that already have competitive international athletes/teams, not be used as decade-long experiments. This isn't an exhibition sport any more, it has full medal accreditation. Maybe it should be an exhibition sport until the magical fairy-tale of the competition "eventually" getting better actually materializes. Getting rid of softball from the Summer Olympics was the right thing to do, since they only had four competitive teams (twice the number of womens hockey). Team sports need special considerations. In individual sports, you can get elite athletes from smaller nations -- like skiers from Croatia and Lichtenstein -- who can foot it with the world's best and claim gold. Even Canada had a gold-medal winner at biathlon, a sport that doesn't register on the radar in Canada, but all it takes is an especially gifted and motivated freak athlete. Whereas with team sports, you don't need just one or two elite athletes, you need a whole stable of them. You require depth. And when you see statistics that show Canada has 60,000 registered female hockey players and nations like Italy and Russia have 250 and 400 registered female players respectively, then the competition is a joke. (I am presuming those census numbers are for all women, not just senior grade level, so it makes me wonder if Italy even had enough bodies to fill two senior teams.) Even ringette and broomball are more competitive that this!!

posted by the red terror at 09:11 AM on February 15

I don't have much of a problem with the scoring, as it factors into the gold-medal game and it's tough NOT to score in hockey when you're standing in front of the net with the puck. I thought there was a little bit of individul chippiness from Canada the other day against Sweden, though. In particular, with the Canadians up 8-1 in the second period, a Swede defenseman made a nice poke check near the net ... and then the Canadian forward just ran her over with a nice shoulder to the gut. That was completely unnecessary.

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:22 AM on February 15

The Olympics should celebrate sports that already have competitive international athletes/teams The Olympics are about putting our political bs aside and competing against each other for the simple sport of it. It doesn't matter how equal the competition is. As long as there are enough teams for a tournament I think it should stay. So what if there are 2 elite teams. There are still 6 other teams that want to play. We should celebrate the fact that women want to play one of the toughest team sports there is.

posted by njsk8r20 at 10:52 AM on February 15

njsk8r20> This has got nothing to do with political bs. None, nada, zilch. And it's got nothing to do with being "equal," it's about being competitive. That is a HUGE difference, and right now womens hockey is not competitive. As far as there being enough teams, that's not an adequate requirement. Look at how many people do silly thing to make the Guiness Book of World Records, and put an Olympic Gold Medal on the line you could get teams to do anything, from break-dancing to washing cars to stamp collecting. There are far more sports in this world than there are Olympic medals, and many of those sports have far higher international participation rates than do womens hockey. Until federations can grow their sport and get participants that can provide a competive tournament, then it should just be a demonstration sport. Right now, it's a farce.

posted by the red terror at 11:18 AM on February 15

AND... As bad as these Euro womens hockey teams are, and as bad as their recruitment to get women to participate in the game, the Euro officials are even worse. All Olympic games have to be officiated by neutral referees, and those European referees are KERR-RAP. When Canada takes on the USA in the Gold medal final, there will be neutral refs, and take it from the Canadian girls -- their biggest worry won't be the American sharpshooters -- it'll be fear of the near-total incompetence of the neutral refs. Sadly, until the game does grow globally, the standard of the neutral refs for championship games will be equally farcical.

posted by the red terror at 12:05 PM on February 15

Good point, TRT, but even horribly incompetent refs would be better than that American ref from the gold medal final in 2002.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 12:09 PM on February 15

On CBC last night Geraldine Heaney (once a player, now a coach in Canada) stated flatly that she would rather have an American referee for the final than a European referee. As long as it wasn't the one from 2002.

posted by Amateur at 12:36 PM on February 15

Also, she led Brian Williams through three examples of the shittiness of the refs to date.

posted by Amateur at 12:37 PM on February 15

OH NO! Not the ref thing again. I thought that was just for the NFL fans (just kidding, put down the torches and pitchforks). I have a hard time criticizing refs after being one. I am not saying you shouldn't, just that I don't like to. How come the olympics are using only one ref? I would think the larger playing area would make it more necessary to have two.

posted by njsk8r20 at 12:49 PM on February 15

I would think the larger playing area would make it more necessary to have two. Larger playing area = players more spread out = better visibility for referee? Just a guess.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 01:38 PM on February 15

"Geraldine Heaney (once a player, now a coach in Canada)..." Brian Williams said she was "coach of the University of Waterloo Warriors." She is coach of the womens program at UW, but wouldn't that then make her coach of the Athenas? (I'm pretty sure that's what we call the ladies here.) GO WARRIORS!!

posted by the red terror at 03:42 PM on February 15

to change direction on this one just a bit ... what kind of a psychological twist would it put on the American team if, as urged by Ruggiero, Canada "toned it down" and actually threw a game, thus potentially pitting them against the US in a semi rather than the predicted Gold Medal match!?!?!? (i gotta give credit to "the Duke" for this idea)

posted by Spitztengle at 04:08 PM on February 15

On CBC last night Geraldine Heaney (once a player, now a coach in Canada) stated flatly that she would rather have an American referee for the final than a European referee. As long as it wasn't the one from 2002. Seriously. That was the worst referee job of any game of any sport I have ever seen.

posted by fabulon7 at 07:27 PM on February 15

Did anybody see Don Cherry's comments Wednesday night on CBC...? Grapes said at least three times that running up scores "is not the Canadian way." He mentioned something about "The Hockey Gods" -- I think what he meant was karma -- saying these things come back to bite you in the ass. (The triumphant often have short memories; the humiliated have very long ones.) He also said that the women are in danger of "committing suicide." He said the IOC is dominated by European nations and votes. He said the overwhelming dominance of womens hockey is in North America. He said that baseball is played in many more countries and is a major sport in the Americas and Japan, and the IOC felt no sympathy when they axed that sport from the Games. He said he predicts womens hockey will stick around for the Vancouver 2010 Games, but that he had big worries that it wouldn't be around after that. For a while there, I began to think Don was reading my mind. (Like Farber, I actually believe the paucity of real sports at the Winter Games means womens hockey will survive as a medal sport because unlike the Summer Games they are desperate for content, but the fact that it's even being discussed is not good for the game. And that's what I think Don was on about, asking, what is good for the game? Don doesn't believe running up scores is ever good for the game.)

posted by the red terror at 08:45 AM on February 16

The theme that strikes me most running thru this topic is that of the way this is made to be about nationalism. From the CBC's initial response article to the Ruggiero comments right through their greatest spokesperson, "The Don" ... this is less about sportsmanship than it is about national pride/identity.

posted by Spitztengle at 10:49 AM on February 16

Don also gave his bona fides, saying he's been a big supporter of the womens program since the inception, saying people used to laugh at him, and that he has been proved right, and that he cares as passionately about the survival of the womens game as anybody. (And I know he's not making that up, because I remember well in the early 1980s he was right in the middle of it.) Whatever else people think of Don, his support and history with grassroots hockey is irrefutable. Lots and lots of hockey fans up here pay close attention to what he says.

posted by the red terror at 11:18 AM on February 16

Link to Cherry's comments here.

posted by the red terror at 03:55 PM on February 16

I saw Cherry and he actually made a pretty reasoned argument. No bulging veins.

posted by Amateur at 07:48 PM on February 16

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