MacLean's 9/11 comments misguided

Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency file photo)

Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency file photo)

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:14 PM ET

TORONTO - Ron MacLean’s introductions on Hockey Night In Canada are sometimes a bit confusing, rambling or melodramatic.

Usually he hits the mark, sometimes not.

Given that, it seemed only a matter of time before Grapes’ sidekick would babble something that would create some controversy.

MacLean’s comments prior to Wednesday night’s broadcast of Game 6 between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals was a reach — and a rather unfortunate one.

Any time you draw comparisons between 9/11 first responders (i.e. police and fire fighters) and pro athletes, it’s misguided at best.

But MacLean isn’t the first broadcaster or writer to link athletes to firefighters, police or soldiers. We’ve all been there. You often hear about an athlete’s “courage” during a game and how “brave” they are with their style of play.

People employed in sports often get carried away in that regard, comparing what they’re witnessing in the rink or on a field to real-life heroics or tragic situations, like a game being a “war” or players competing like “soldiers on D-Day.”

More than once we’ve read or heard about how fans are in “mourning” over a big playoff loss.

A little focus is needed. Sports are just that: Sports. They’re a distraction from everyday life and athletes should never be compared to firefighters, policemen or soldiers, people who put their lives on the line every day for the good of society.

Still, MacLean shouldn’t be overly lambasted. He issued a clarification on Thursday afternoon, saying that hockey games in no way compare with the first responders, adding that, “Sports has proven a worthy training ground in nurturing the qualities which beget that spirit. To say he plays like a firefighter or a policeman would instantly conjure the traits an athlete most desires, especially in New York and Washington. There could be no higher praise of a player, no greater choice of a role model.”

Fair enough. MacLean means well and he’s a very fine broadcaster. Maybe he just needs an impartial set of eyes to go over his copy before the red light comes on.

FEELING THE MAJOR PAIN?

One of Canada’s top professional boxers will headline a fight card on Saturday night at the Hershey Centre. Logan Cotton McGuinness, 16-0-1, 8KOs, will put his NABA Super Featherweight title on the line against Buffalo’s Meacher (Major Pain) Major, who is 20-4-1, with 17 KOs.

Meacher plans to be a major pain in the butt to McGuinness’ promoters by putting an end to the Orangeville fighter’s unbeaten streak. McGuinness is coming off a come-from-behind win last October over former Canadian national team fighter Benoit Gaudet.

The 24-year-old boxer overcame a severe cut and was trailing on the scorecards to register an 11th-round knockout over Gaudet and keep his win streak intact. What’s intriguing about Major is that the 30-year-old fighter was born in the beautiful Bahamas and often fights on his home soil, but chooses to reside in Buffalo. Perhaps Ontario Athletics Commissioner Ken Hayashi should order some additional head tests on the western New York-based fighter.

In the co-feature, undefeated welterweight Sam Vargas 10-0-1 4KOs will face Frederic Serre of France. Serre’s record, 12-6, 3KOs, isn’t overly impressive, but he is an old warhorse and has been fighting professionally since 2005.

CANUCKS IN TOUGH

Canadian fighters at the Olympic boxing trials in Rio de Janeiro, started off the week by going an outstanding 10-1. Unfortunately for the Canadians, men’s boxing is one of the toughest events in the world in which to qualify for the Olympics (boxing is one of the few sports where almost every nation fields a team) and the Americas zone trials have lived up to their tough billing.

The men have since gone 2-7 in the later rounds. But they still have a chance to qualify a couple of fighters for London, including heavyweight Samir El-Mais of Windsor, who defeated Julio Deivis of Colombia in his first bout, 16-11, and super heavyweight Simon Kean of Montreal, who opened the tournament with a first-round stoppage over Christopher Joseph of Dominica. Canada has had a tough go qualifying boxers for recent Olympics — and the trend continues. Makes you wonder how many talented young fighters boxing is losing to mixed martial arts in this country.


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