Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hockey On The Radio (In 2014)

A few months ago I resolved to pay more attention to more of the world’s major sports leagues, specifically the major European football leagues, and the major American sport leagues. While this was helped by my upping my data allowance, it is restricted by my not having pay-TV, and also that for most of the weekdays I would not be around to watch the TV anyway.

One sport that does conveniently fit into my life though is hockey. American sports are on at a time that I can listen to them on radio during the day here in Australia, and while my radio app does not pick up American football or basketball games, it has access to a plethora of hockey broadcasts. Typically I only tune in for games between the more ‘iconic’ teams – from the US: Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the NY teams, LA and Anaheim, Boston, Detroit, and Chicago, and from Canada: Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Toronto. But with hockey games played every day throughout the season, there is usually one game a day that I will tune in for at least a period.

In an age where most of the sports coverage we have access to is visual – either TV or internet – listening to the radio feels like an interesting throwback. For me, it reminds me of listening to Australian rules football in the 1980s and 1990s; nowadays I barely listen to Australian football, as I can easily get my fill just from TV broadcasts. Hence listening to a game on, say, the Edmonton or Pittsburgh network, and hearing the ads for local stores, somewhat feels like an alternate childhood in which I grew up in one of those cities listening to the clack of the puck and the swishing of skates on ice. (For the record I can’t skate.) For NY Islanders games I listen to the Hofstra University radio coverage, which leads me to imagine being a college kid in a dorm, listening to the hockey as I study and then drift off to sleep. I get a similar feeling listening to English Premier League matches on radio, as if those matches rather than Australian Football League matches are the ones that me and my town have been looking forward to all week, although the less favourable time zone differences between here and England means I experience that less often.

I’m not sure I get the same invented nostalgia from TV coverage – you don’t get the local ads and it is clearer from TV that the game is taking place in a foreign city. And as I said radio sports coverage reminds me specifically of a time in my life where waiting for the weekend’s matches was a bigger deal. Listening to the hockey makes me think that growing up Canadian would have been OK.

‘He shoots … HE SCORES!’  

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