“What I saw and heard during a live sports telecast was so disgusting, so depressing,” writes the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick, “that I turned off the TV and read a book.” What could’ve so sickened NewsCorp’s resident conscience of sports media? Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime show? Bruno Sammartino mending fences with the WWE? No, instead it was New York Islanders fans reacting to Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby taking a puck to the face on Tuesday night.
The crowd in Nassau Coliseum instantly erupted in joy. This wasn’t the kind of gleeful, audible noise made by 10 or 20, or even 50 desensitized fools, but by hundreds, and more likely thousands. The joy was loud, long and lousy with the sickness that was inevitable, given the cumulative effects of being urged — trained — to become remorseless wise guys and group participation punks.
And when Crosby, among the most talented players in the NHL, skated off for medical treatment, those Coliseum patrons chanted, “Crosby sucks!”
On MSG, announcers Howie Rose and Butch Goring — the latter a Lady Byng Trophy winner for gentlemanly conduct while playing in the NHL — said nothing about the MSG team’s home crowd’s behavior, perhaps conditioned, if not compelled, to ignore such things.
Sad, sadder, saddest. For years, this is where our sports culture has been headed. I thought I could stomach anything, get past it. But Tuesday, for the first time, it was time. Time to shut off the TV and read a book. Never thought it ever could come to that.
Here’s a clip of the incident in question. Though you can hear an audible chant of “Crosby Sucks”, it hardly sounds like the work of thousands of paying customers. There’s an obvious reaction to Crosby’s injury, but it might be a slight stretch to call it “loud, long and lousy”, particularly as said crowd noise seems to subside about 8 seconds after Crosby went down. If Rose and Goring had little to say about the behavior of the Nassau Mausoleum mob, perhaps that’s because the audio in their headphones isn’t necessarily the same arena mix that’s going over the MSG airwaves. Even if it were, it didn’t sound as though more than a handful of persons were chanting “Crosby Sucks”.