Ryan Woolley
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April 8 - The Canadian Corner

As the resident Canuck on this site, I've decided to try out my own little weekly column here on The
Writers. I'll hit on anything and everything that piques my interest. For this week, I'm going to hit on two
topics that have really made me wonder lately about the direction that the sporting world is going in.

The Next "Next One"....Already?

Sidney Crosby, touted by many hockey pundits out there as "The Next One", in reference to Canadian
hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, is just 19 years of age. He has already proven himself to be a scoring
machine, as he looks as though he is about to secure the Art Ross trophy for leading the league in
scoring as well as helping to take the Pittsburgh Penguins back into the playoffs. I'll admit to not
being a fan of his, but right now, he has certainly lived up to his billing as the next Gretzky. The kid is
loaded with talent. He gets a lot of coverage every night on all of the sports highlight channels, and
has been continually touted as the brightest young hockey prodigy to be produced in this country for
the last 4 or 5 years. The amount of coverage he has received has been insane. One network has
even taken it upon itself to do a nightly side by side comparison of Crosby and Gretzky at the same
age, covering each one's points to that point of their seasons. They even televised the draft lottery that
was held for Crosby, an unprecedented thing for an NHL player. Soon enough however, he will be
pushed aside.

Enter John Tavares.

Tavares is just 16 years of age, and currently playing for the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey
League. He will be eligible for the NHL Entry Draft in 2009. In this country, he has already been
referred to as the "The Next Next One", which reveals a disturbing trend in the way we as a whole
cover sports. It has gotten to the point where 13 and 14 year olds are scouted when they are just
entering their early years of teenage life. In order to rush Tavares into the OHL, the OHL created the
"Exceptional Player" rule. This allowed him to be drafted at the age of 14. The normal age for a player
is 16. When 2009 rolls around and the entry draft approaches, I expect Tavares to get just as much
coverage as Crosby did, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was more considering they are already
covering the kid and his breaking of some of Gretzky's records when he played at that level.

Nowadays it seems like the coverage of drafting and prospects has taken precedence over the actual
sports and games being played. After LeBron James turned pro and was drafted into the NBA in the
year 2003, people turned their attention to likely number one pick in the upcoming draft, Greg Oden.
High School basketball games are getting play on ESPN and other channels. Magazines have
sections dedicated to these types of things. Websites spring up by the day covering younger and
younger players. Drafts are more popular then ever. Why is this? Why do we feel the need to
constantly look towards the future, when what we are really doing is tossing away the present? When
did it happen that we could no longer enjoy the players who were currently on the ice, court, or field
more, and keep on thinking about who was coming next? To me, there is more appeal in watching
someone who has fully formed their game, then someone who is raw and may not quite be there yet.
I for one do not enjoy the constant bombardment of this type of material.

Maybe someday the focus WILL go back on to the actual games themselves. For the sakes of the
kids who are becoming more and more exploited by the day, I sure hope so.

Blame on Athletes: Where it truly belongs

A few weeks ago, I was surfing the net and came across a story on SI.com that I found to be extremely
interesting. In a column by Jeff Benedict, he talked about off-the-field issues of athletes as well as
what he felt was the cause of said issues. Of course, we all now about the numerous amounts of
arrests of different players like Pac Man Jones and whatnot, but what is more interesting is where
Benedict placed the blame for said incidents. This quote is from the March 26th column he wrote on

"What's behind this most recent rash of violence among highly paid athletes? The crime scenes shed
light on a dirty little secret that's dragging the image of pro sports into the gutter. An examination of
police and published reports revealed that all of the aforementioned incidents took place at a strip
club or a nightclub, between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m."

It is asinine and stupid to place the blame for ANY of these incidents on the strip clubs or the night
clubs. Why is it that the blame for these incidents is never put directly on the athletes themselves?
They as pro athletes should know damn well what is going to happen when they walk into these
places with their entourages and all the money waving around. They should have the common sense
to realize that this will only cause conflict. It is up to the player themselves to know what is going to
happen. There is enough history of these types of incidents that it is obvious that the fault is that of the
athlete, not of the strip club or the nightclub. We as the media need to stop placing the blame
elsewhere, and start putting it right where it belongs, on the shoulders of every moron athlete who
causes their own problems. The blame needs to be quit being put elsewhere, on the drugs, the
clubs, the booze, and anything else. We all make our own choices every day and athletes are no
different. We should quit giving them preferential treatment and start treating them like the idiots they
are when they cause these problems. They deserve no better then anyone else, and we in the media
should start treating them as such.

And on that note, that ends this debut edition of The Canadian Corner. Next time, I'll take a look at the
first round of the NHL Playoffs.