George Malik over at Snapshotsalready picked this story up, but I think it's worth passing along to you. It's no secret that I don't take kindly to folks berating the city of my birth and home of my favorite sports teams. Here's a question that some whiney little lint licker submitted to some hack named Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Gazette:
Q:Is it just me or is Sidney Crosby getting booed a lot more on the road more recently? Booing him every time he touches the puck has always been the norm in Philadelphia, and D.C. has adopted the practice in the past couple of years due to the growing rivalry between Sid and Alexander Ovechkin, but it seems like fans at recent Penguins road games (New Jersey, Boston, Detroit) have started this practice. (Not to mention the anti-Crosby chants throughout the game in the not-so-aptly-named "Hockeytown." What better way to show you are the best "Hockeytown" than by slandering one of the world's best players?). I can't recall the superstars of my youth (Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman, etc.) receiving such treatment when they were on the road. Do fans today just have less respect for the game than they used to or is Sid really that hated outside of Pittsburgh?
Steve, Centerville, Ohio
That's an easy one, Steve. EVERYONE hates your little punkass captain except for fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He whines incessantly, he's a diver, he takes cheap shots with never any reprieve, and he consistently refuses to give his opponents the credit they deserve in the media that exhaustively follows him. Anyone who doesn't feel strongly enough to hate the way the guy plays at times and acts MOST of the time, simply hasn't watched him long or closely enough.
Not-so-aptly-named "Hockeytown"? And you're basing that on what? The four Stanley Cups in the past 12 years, or the ONE that you've won in very-aptly-named "Steelers Town". Come talk to me about our label of Hockeytown when you cheer for a franchise that hasn't been within a hair of moving away due to lack of fan interest.
But let's see what Mr. Molinari had to say, it's pretty long winded so I'll add my comments in red throughout it...
Crosby faces more hostility from fans on the road than any player in the league and, as you noted, the list of places where that happens is growing.
And will continue to grow until he grows...maturity wise.
Guys like the previous generation of stars that you listed certainly weren't beloved everywhere they went -- Gretzky, for example, probably didn't view a trip to the Civic Arena as one of the highlights of a given season -- but the treatment they got during games is nothing like that to which Crosby is subjected.
Gretzky was a whiner, but Crosby is worse. It's hard to stomach anyone who takes such ridiculous dives (check it out on youtube) and is voted by his fellow NHL players as the "Biggest Whiner" by a landslide. I also never saw Gretzky, Yzerman, or Mario punch someone in the yambag from behind.
Why people act the way they do is a question better put to a psychiatrist, but there are at least a couple of factors that have contributed to the animosity Crosby faces. The league chose to make him its face -- something Crosby did not request, and in which he had no say -- when he entered it in 2005, and that turned him into an automatic target for some people. Then, when he broke into the league, he acted like, well, an 18-year-old at times, particularly when he believed an opponent had done something penalty-worthy to him, but had gone unpunished. And when then-Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock labeled him a "diver," people were quick to embrace that, as well.
Because it was true.
Finally, one suspects that what Crosby deals with on the road reflects a general decline in civility in our society (as anyone familiar with some of the things that happened during the recent healthcare reform debate can attest), and the reality that some people seem to feel that if they're part of a crowd, they no longer are subject to the rules that generally govern how one conducts oneself.
A general decline in the civility of our society? Seriously? How about a general decline in the characteristics needed to be a good captain of an NHL team?
Also, one can't help but wonder how many of the people who are particularly vile when screaming at him during a game -- including those folks who think they're being really clever and original when they mutate Crosby's first name into that of a female -- are the same ones who would sell one of their children's kidneys for a chance to have their photo taken with him.
Ah yes, the age-old "you're just jealous!" argument to defend him. Changing his name around isn't all that clever...well the "Rosby" one is, but Cindy and Crysob are just too easy thanks to Mama and Papa Rosby. And I'm not even commenting on the notion that people would sell one of their children's kidneys for a chance to have their photo taken with him. because it simply doesn't deserve one.
(Finally, it's worth mentioning yet again that "Hockeytown" was a marketing slogan the Red Wings broke out during the 1990s. Nothing more, nothing less. Yes, there are a lot of highly knowledgeable fans in Detroit, as in every Original Six city and quite a few others. But no, bearing that label is not evidence, in and of itself, of a particularly astute or classy fan base.)
S*ck it. Is that classy enough for you?