Go Caucasians Go!

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Should we get rid of the Cleveland Indians or have more racist team names?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. May 4, 2016

In early April, journalist and ESPN host Bomani Jones went on Mike & Mike wearing what appeared to be a Cleveland Indians t-shirt. But it wasn’t. Instead of the Cleveland Indians mascot, the wide grinning racist caricature, Chief Wahoo, it was a whitewashed spoof. This character had pale skin and instead of a feathered headdress, he had a dollar sign on his head. To hammer it home, in the same font as the baseball team logo, there was the word “Caucasian” printed on it. No doubt, the shirt was making a not-so-subtle message that racism can go both ways.

If you don’t have a problem with the Cleveland Indians, but you do have a problem with the Cleveland Caucasians, then you most definitely have a problem.

So much has been said about racist team names in sports. The resistance is what is most surprising. But then again, the fact that Donald Trump has so much momentum in the presidential race after giving bigoted, racially insensitive speeches perhaps dampens the shock.

I’m tired of arguing against racist team names that are so obviously racist. Let’s argue the other side for a bit. My question: why aren’t there more racist team names?

The thing is, America has a long history of racism—every country does. What I’m kind of upset about is that the Native Americans are really the only ones that get any spotlight as team mascots. As a Chinese person that seems kind of unfair, because the Chinese have been screwed over in America too. If the Native Americans get a team name, shouldn’t we get something along the lines of the New York Yellow Skins? Or maybe the Latinos deserve one before we get one… I don’t know what’s fair anymore.

If we don’t have a problem with the Cleveland Indians or the Washington Redskins, then surely we won’t have a problem with a team called the Cleveland East Indians or the New Mexico Rednecks. I’m just brainstorming here, but those are a couple good names to cheer for.

I’m not going to create a petition or anything because, in the end, I know that that would be wasted energy. So why not poke fun at it? Why shouldn’t we have a good sense of humour about this kind of stuff? See, the thing about making fun of racism is that certain people are affected more by it than others. It’s not hard to rile an African American person; we, of different ethnicity, know that magic word to do it. However, it’s apparently pretty hard to rile or harm a white person via racism. That is because Caucasians—the apparently politically correct term to call them by—have the majority of the power on this continent. A lesson here for the minorities: you don’t get what you want by making fun of the majority with power.

Here’s the proof that they have the power. They are the Patriots, the Saints, the Cowboys, the Vikings, the Yankees, the Rangers, and the Mariners. Are those names multi-cultural? Meh. Not really. These are titles that heighten the rank of white people.

I’ll end on a positive note. There are some quality team names out there that honour the culture that it was inspired from. These are the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Diego Padres (padres is Spanish for father or fantastic) and the Atlanta Braves. These are names that give power without discrimination.

It’s how you say it

Image via Thinkstock

Talking down to friends, family, and teammates can only weaken the links

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. October 21, 2015

The act of belittling another verbally, whether it’s in a work environment or in a social setting, is so offensive that often I regret not responding physically. True, we might have messed up, dropped a ball here or there, but regardless of the situation, neither you nor I should be talked down to. However, we must also be cautious to not ridicule and belittle others.

We’ve all had to work with someone who didn’t have the same level of skill in a particular task as we did. When I say work, I also include other team activities such as sports. Life is all about teamwork, and the old adage rings true: “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” While you may think that calling out another’s shortcomings or ridiculing them publically in front of their peers is an effective way of motivating them to improve, it is not!

What you must understand is that not everyone shares the same level of interest or passion as you in any given project. Believe me, if you shame someone enough times, especially in a team environment where trust and loyalty is paramount, you’ve lost them. They’ll find new friends, get another job, and avoid you completely. Nothing you do is special enough to mistreat others over. People will get fed up, angry, and often retaliate. This can be incredibly destructive.

If you think that others should pick up the slack, you should really look in the mirror and ask yourself: Are you the top performer? Are you the best on your team? Are you literally better than everyone else you work with? If you are, what the hell are you doing with these losers? Go pick on someone your own size. If not, then shut up! This looking down on people is the same vain and arrogant way of thinking that makes you ugly, regardless of how you look.

There is only so far you can push other people before they push back. If you don’t establish camaraderie first, then there is no balance between the team. There is a reason why in every creative writing class students are encouraged to note something good before mentioning something bad. It’s not because we are sensitive and we need things sugarcoated. It’s because we are human and we have feelings. We are all equals in the grand scheme of things.

We all know how it feels to be talked down to. You may have been on the receiving end of a situation I described above, with a team member or friend telling you you weren’t good enough. As a younger adult, like many college students are, I often feel that the older generation—those with full-time jobs, children, and a retirement plan—cannot help but lecture me. I’m not talking about helpful advice; I’m talking about critical, judgmental assessment of my values, pursuits, and character. Some of them speak as if I’m entitled, inconsiderate, disrespectful, ungrateful, or unmotivated. Ultimately, a conversation with these older people becomes a vicious assault of guilt and shame.

Life is too short to spend your time being put down by an employer, spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, or teammate. Life is too short to be spent with people who don’t appreciate you for your efforts. If you find yourself in defence mode all the time, get out of the situation now. The best way to retaliate to those talking down to you is to leave, completely.

Top questions of the 2015–16 NHL season

Photo by Jeff Vinnick via http://thescore.com

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. October 6, 2015

Here’s to another year of hockey, and, like the start of every school year, we have to wonder who will excel, what surprises will occur, and how all the changes will affect the grand scheme of things. Overtime storylines will play out on the ice, and we’ll learn the answers. Until then, these are the top question entering the 2015–16 NHL season:

Will Connor McDavid lead the Oilers to a playoff berth (and beyond)?

McDavid is marketed as the next Sidney Crosby, but will Edmonton—with its poor development system and defensive support—drain the talents of another first overall draft pick? Will McDavid be able to do what Nail Yakupov, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Taylor Hall couldn’t? It took Crosby three full seasons before captaining the Penguins to a championship. How long will it take McDavid? No rush. The bar is low. For now, synergistically, Edmonton as a whole can aim for the next level and make it into the playoffs. Easy.

How will three-on-three overtime affect the overall standings?

The shootout has not been eliminated, but with three-on-three overtime, it might as well have been. I love this new tie-breaking format, however, I’m disappointed to see the end of four-on-four—if only there was some way to integrate that. Needless to say, with opening the ice for key players and reducing the flip-of-the-coin factor of shootouts we can see more skilled teams earning points. For example last season the Los Angeles Kings won 2 of 10 overtime shootouts. Those lost points could have ultimately gotten the former Stanley Cup champions into the playoffs, where they would have surely dominated.

Can coaching changes turn the tides for underachieving teams?

Mike Babcock to Toronto, Peter DeBoer to San Jose, Dan Bylsma to Buffalo, and Todd McLellan to Edmonton—these are a few of the high profile coaches standing behind new benches this season. The only reason coaches are moved is because their old teams are failing to achieve certain goals and their new teams have limited options. I don’t believe any coach can singlehandedly turn a franchise around, and as great as their track records are—especially for Babcock and Bylsma—I believe it’ll be a few years before they can make their mark. The thing is, will their new teams be so patient?

Will the Western Conference dominate the East again in the finals?

For five of the past six years, the winner of the Stanley Cup playoffs has been from the Western Conference. On top of that, those five victories were from two teams, the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks. These two “dynasty” teams will be hard-pressed to continue this pattern as many of the Eastern contenders have seen improvements. This might be the year the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, or Tampa Bay Lightning learn from their tribulations and win four series in a row. There are also a few dark horse contenders with generational players—Alexander Ovechkin and Jonathan Tavares both have optimistic teams ready to face-off—ready to take their legacy to supremacy. This year, I believe the two teams matched in the finals will be turning the page on the Kings’ and Blackhawks’ dominance.

Why NHL in Vegas is a low-stakes gamble—but is it most deserving?

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The ‘best’ cities for NHL expansion

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. Oct. 1, 2015

The National Hockey League has kept their cards close to their chest in terms of when and where the next expansion franchise—if there is one—will be. As far as competition goes, Las Vegas and Quebec City are the two frontrunners, being the only two cities to submit their $10 million application fee. While eyes are on the prize, both of those cities have things working against them when it comes to adopting a NHL franchise.

Las Vegas, known for its sultry heat and abundant amount of entertainment, may seem like a bizarre place to watch hockey. In addition, having never been home to a major sports team, Las Vegas doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. Bets are on for whether such a venture would be successful or not. We would hate to see it become another inescapable desert disappointment, (cough cough) Phoenix, I mean, Arizona.

All I can say is that the heat will not be what harms their chances; it will be the fan base. At the moment, Hockey Vision Las Vegas, an organization seeking committed hockey fans to buy tickets, is aiming to convince the league that there is a strong desire for hockey. I believe there is a fan base in Vegas, but not necessarily from the locals.

Las Vegas is a vacation hotspot with 40 million people visiting in 2014—many of whom came during the winter season, i.e., hockey season. This is a perfect opportunity to lure in spectators who would not have an opportunity to see hockey otherwise.

I know that Vancouver fans will happily drop $500 for flights and an all-inclusive trip to Vegas to see a Canucks away game against the Las Vegas team. But would those living in the Sin City bother seeing their own team? The fact is that any Canadian hockey fans would be excited to see their team in Vegas, but if that’s the case, why not have the expansion take place closer to home?

Seeing Winnipeg get a team back in 2011 must have given Quebec City a lot of hope. The reason they lost the Nordiques in 1995 to Colorado was because their facilities could not match the new NHL standards. That’s all changed now; the Videotron Centre gives the city some legs to stand on when trying to earn the NHL’s attention. It’s designed with hockey as its sole purpose. With that being the case, it’s just a matter of time before hockey returns to French Canada.

However, Quebec could get a franchise again via a different route: the Carolina Hurricanes have been rumoured to be on the move. This means the former Hartford Whalers franchise could possibly move north of the border… wouldn’t that be nice?

Las Vegas and Quebec City are as different as cities come, but for hockey, I believe these two places are apt choices. Nevertheless, I hate seeing so many NHL franchises concentrated on the East Coast. We are due for a couple of purely western teams. For selfish reasons, I would rather see an expansion team in Seattle or Portland before a team in Quebec City. One thing lacking for Vancouver fans is an opportunity to go on road trips to see our regional rivals. If Seattle can make a push when the next expansion round comes around, that would be exciting news. But for now we’ll take what we can get, and be happy we don’t live in Atlanta.

Rotating goalies make 2015 playoff interesting

Andrew Hammond photo by Harry How

Young and veteran goalies trade off chances in net

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. May 4, 2015

Twenty-four goalies entered play in the first round of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. With 75 per cent of the teams using more than one goalie, it makes competition ever more unpredictable. Goaltending has always been hailed as the defining factor when it comes to the playoffs. A goalie can steal a game and win a series all on his own. And this year quality goaltending remains an important ingredient for any team’s success.

While rotating goaltenders can get you to the finals—remember when the Philadelphia Flyers with Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher lost to the Chicago Blackhawks—it rarely wins you the championship. The script this year is a bit different though for a number of teams. The Ottawa Senators and the Vancouver Canucks earned playoff berths this year all because of the valiant play of their backup goalies. Sadly when it came down to crunch time, (i.e., a seven-game series) Andrew Hammond and Eddie Lack were unable to pull off any miracles.

However, it was interesting seeing the veterans step in to salvage the series. Number one goalies Craig Anderson of the Senators and Ryan Miller of the Canucks, ended up starting their respective game six elimination games. One might believe that if the coaches were to start their number ones initially the result might have been different, however, with such stellar performances from the rookies and sophomore goaltenders the fans might have been outraged to see that. Hindsight is only so useful in hockey.

The result was perhaps inevitable. You need your number one goalie to perform like a number one goalie if you want to win the Stanley Cup. If you bet on your number two, it’s a huge gamble. There are exceptions of course. In 2006 Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes came in to replace Martin Gerber early in the playoffs to lead the Hurricanes to the championship.

Teams with sound goaltending like New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, and Montreal Canadiens are the undeniable favourites this year. Having consistency on the backend does more for a team than build confidence. With solid goaltending, a team can intimidate the opposition. In a sense, with a goalie as consistent as Carey Price or Henrik Lundqvist, opponents are down a point before the game even begins.

Of the teams that have advanced to the second round, the Calgary Flames and the Chicago Blackhawks are the two most notable teams that have succeeded with a rotating goalie strategy. While it has worked so far, if one goalie does not step forward and take the sole responsibility—have reliable performance day after day—then they will surely be eliminated. The Blackhawks are facing the Minnesota Wild with Devan Dubnyk, who has really come into form since escaping Edmonton. It’s hard to bet against the experience of the Blackhawks, but going with the theme, inconsistent goaltending may end up being their downfall.

TeamSnap Assists League and Club Organizers With All-Star Communication and Management Tools

For the longest time, team sports have had reputations as being poorly organized.

It was not because the coaches were incompetent or because the players were disorganized; it was because there was a lack of easy-to-use tools. In addition, the market for communication, management, and scheduling apps is as crowded as a defensive zone in the fourth quarter.

TeamSnap, an application designated for teams and clubs management, has a simple philosophy to break away: elite customer service and great user experience.

Team communication is paramount, whether it’s on the field, on the rink, or even on the way to practice. People need to know where to be, when to get there, and what to bring before they can score goals, make saves, and win big.

“We need to let people know about what’s happening in the way they want to be informed,” said Dave DuPont, CEO of TeamSnap. “If they want to use email, fine. We send 40-million emails a month now. If they want a text message, that works too. If they prefer Push, that’s cool. If they just want to use the native mobile app—we were one of the first in the industry to introduce that—then they can use the native mobile app.”

It’s not uncommon for venue and game time to change last minute. There isn’t always time to inform every person individually, and mass messaging on certain platforms will be neglected because the player or participant is already on the road.

Most of us understand the pain and hassle of organizing an event. Most of us also know the headache when a certain aspect falls through. But with TeamSnap, all the organizer or coach has to do is change—for example—the time of the event on the TeamSnap calendar and every member will be informed in the manner they desire.

Another element of a successful team is accountability. Because of the leniency of technology, people have gotten a little flakey or unresponsive when it comes to invitations. One of TeamSnap’s popular features is the “availability.”

“We make it super easy for folks to say if they are coming,” said DuPont. “They can confirm if they are coming, they can confirm if they are bringing the orange slices and beer. And that is all tabulated and everyone can see it, if the organizer wants everyone to see it. And it can be changed automatically. That is just the sort of thing that makes everybody’s life a lot easier.”

With over seven million users and an infrastructure that informs people, TeamSnap is taking it to the next level by broadcasting in-game experiences. Chat, scores, and highlights can all be crowd sourced during the game. Everybody on the sidelines can contribute and offer an experience for those who aren’t there.

Unlike Twitter, TeamSnap is a private social network. Only those accepted by the team’s inner circle will be able to receive updates, stats, and conversations.

While the experience on TeamSnap is familiar across the board, different sports require different approaches for a fine-tuned experience. Every game and every league has little subtleties and TeamSnap accommodates by allowing organizers to modify templates.

“We are most valuable for folks that are particularly sensitive to saving time and having great communications,” said DuPont. “A hockey team in general is going to be more sensitive to that issue than a pick-up baseball or pick-up football team. If you have a certain ice time, you want to make sure everyone is there on time.”

Having hit critical mass in such markets as Vancouver (2,200 teams and the third largest in Canada), TeamSnap is aiming to add more value to the users involved by providing goods and services related to sports. The data stored in TeamSnap, such as experience level, type of sport, and start of season, can all be utilized by brands to offer products and services that fit the players and the teams’ needs. A coach can inform a brand of the team colour, and in return the brand can recommend shoes and jerseys of that colour for the players.

DuPont added: “We take an altruistic view of this. We aren’t trying to maximize pageviews or anything like that—we just want to be the indispensible tool for teams.”

The Olympics that no one wants

Freestyle Skiing - Winter Olympics Day 13

Why world-class cities opt out of hosting

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. October 21, 2014

And then there were two: Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing, People’s Republic of China. How on Earth did this happen? Is it because hosting an Olympic event is such a drain on a country’s economy, or is it because people just don’t care about the Winter Olympics?

When Oslo, Norway—the frontrunner to host the 2022 Olympics—withdrew its bid on October 1, many fans, organizers, and athletes awoke to a realization: the Winter Olympics was just not worth the trouble. For too long, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had been the popular girl at prom, but now she might have a profile on Plenty of Fish.

The problem is not necessarily the Olympics’ attractiveness, but rather its high standards. The IOC is demanding, and that was the greatest turn-off for the Norwegians. After all, the committee did send over a 7,000-page handbook and requested alterations of traffic and airport customs just for the officials, in addition to a cocktail party with the Norwegian royal family. Such pompous demands say a lot about the organization’s culture. And it’s not too surprising to see that Norway wanted nothing to do with it.

With that being said, there is prestige from hosting the two-week event. Just look at the result of the 2010 Winter Olympics here in Vancouver, and you’ll see that the event elevated the city into the world-class standard. It put us centre stage and we astounded the world, in addition to proving many skeptics wrong. We can all agree that Vancouver’s infrastructure, traffic, and tourism economy has taken a step in a positive direction since.

The global situation is that not many cities are capable of becoming world-class cities. Sochi, for example, struggled with the event to the very last moment, and tourism is not exactly flourishing there now. Recessions across many European countries also make the opportunity to host risky.

The most likely event now is that the IOC will select Beijing as the host of the 2022 Olympics—it’s the most reasonable choice. The second possibility is that the committee will offer the opportunity to a country that has proven experience hosting recent large-scale events. What the committee needs to establish is six to 10 world-class cities across the globe that can host the Olympics should a newcomer fail to meet the exceptionally high standards. The United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Italy, France, Russia, and whoever else the IOC deems suitable should be added to their little black book.

No doubt having a list of suitable candidates will reduce the status of the IOC, but is that such a bad thing? What’s the alternative? Waiting by the telephone, hoping that a rich country will call? The IOC should know better: the Winter Olympics is not to be compared with the World Cup or the Summer Olympics. People just don’t need it as much.

‘Don’t let it hit my beautiful face’

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An interview with the world’s most shamed/famed goaltender

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Formerly published by The Other Press. Feb. 17, 2014

I first met Charlie Winston on a rainy day at a coffee shop in Tsawwassen, British Columbia. I approached the man and bought him a cup of decaf. We sat in the back corner—we had to, for fear he’d be recognized—and he told me about the most traumatic moment of his life.

It all began in third grade when Winston was just a fragile little prepubescent boy with an afro: “There are two things kids do when they are growing up in Canada,” he told me in a hushed voice as if he were gossiping about the homeless man at the adjacent table. “One, we don’t talk about Fight Club, unless we mention how great Edward Norton is in it. And two, we play hockey.”

Such a statement left me caressing my soul patch, a personal project that I don’t care to mention in anymore depth. As I began encouraging him to delve further into his deep dark memories, he shuddered, almost breaking down into tears, recovering enough only to excuse himself to go to the bathroom.

Winston left me at the table for 45 minutes before he returned. What he was doing is still unknown.

“Every recess, while all the girls made up rumours about me,” said Winston, “I would be alone, making rumours about them.”

“Strange,” I thought, before vocalizing that same sentiment—“Strange.”

“Yes, very strange,” he agreed before continuing. “One day, the boys saw me sitting there on a tuffet, eating my curds and whey. They shyly walked over and asked if I wanted to play hockey with them or talk about Edward Norton. I told them that I thought Norton deserved an Academy Award for his performance and they agreed.”

According to Winston, the boys were satisfied by his opinions about the acclaimed actor and left him alone; he continued eating his food and gossiping to himself. Suddenly another boy appeared out of nowhere and asked if he would like to join them in a game of hockey. Never thought of as athletic, Winston declined.

“Pleeease!” said the boy. “You’d make such a good goalie.”

Never athletic, but always easily wooed, Winston agreed.

“Before I knew it I was standing there in front of the net feeling like Little Miss Muffet,” said Winston. “I was so vulnerable, more so when they started shooting rubber discs at me. I freaked! See, I didn’t really understand the rules of hockey at that time, so I thought they were trying to kill me with a thick novelty flying disc. I had to defend myself, you see! I could not die this way! They had to die!”

One save, two goals against, three fatalities, and 17 injuries were the result of Winston’s first game in net.

“I can still remember the screams,” he told me as his voice dropped to a secretive level. “I’m not sure if it was me screaming or the children—but I heard it: ‘Don’t let it hit my beautiful face!’ It still haunts me to this day.”

At the end of our interview, I stood up and shook the man’s hand. And then it dawned on me: I was shaking Charlie Winston’s hand.

Charlie Winston, the simple man, the murderer, and the new starting goalie for the Vancouver Canucks.

Will Virtual Sports Ever Win Their Way onto the Olympic Podium?

Virtual sports, like many Olympic events, require endurance, determination, precision and hours upon hours of training. But in the athletic community, the idea of video games being placed into the same category as hockey, track and field and gymnastic is laughable. There is a notion that any sport where the participant can compete while sitting on their couch or computer chair cannot be considered a real sport.

Still, all around the world, fans and spectators gather to watch the best video game players battle it out for virtual sports supremacy. These pro-gamers can earn accolades and up to six-figures playing the games they love.

Now with big name corporations such as Microsoft and Sony integrating online streaming platforms such as Twitch, video game fanatics can subscribe to channels and watch gamers compete, the same way sport fanatics would watch hockey and soccer games. With over five million people viewing these channels a day, there is no doubt that video games have a larger demographic than many other forgotten sports currently in the Olympics (handball, anyone?).

Concentration, rapid reflexes and well-thought-out strategies are the foundation of any good athlete and so it goes with gamers. While video games might not be physically draining, it does require a lot of mental stamina, like the kind it takes to play poker or chess, which has been recognized as a mind sport.

But the unique problem that video games face is that the games are constantly changing. Video games are a product of technology and technology evolves, quickly. New innovative games are being created everyday. And since Olympics only occur once every four years it’s hard to determine which games is deemed worthy of competition.

After all what games are timeless like chess, soccer, and high jump? The answer is none; even the most popular games go out of fashion and replaced by the new generations. That is why there are 20 versions of Need for Speed, over 10 different series of Street Fighter, and every year EA Sports produces a new sport game. Video games are ephemeral, like a book or a movie, when it’s done you put it on the shelf and anticipate the next one.

On the other hand, Olympic sports are subjected to minor changes every four years. Even though the athletics are the same, the course, the judging and the rules are often adjusted for practical reasons. For example, this year in Sochi, Russia, the hockey games are played on international-ice size (61m by 30.5m), meaning it’s 4.5 metres wider than the previous Olympic in Vancouver where it was NHL size (61m by 26m). Regardless, the athletes competing are on the same surface, and the objective is still to put the puck in the net.

It’s the same with video games. Sure, maybe there won’t be a specific game chosen for the Olympics, but there could definitely be a genre of games. Racing games never change, shooting games never change, fighting games never change—when you look at the big picture, video games often follow the same structure. You have to be first or to kill as many zombies, soldiers, or aliens as possible.

In the Olympics, different racing distances are rewarded different medals. You don’t categorize the sprinters with the marathon runners. Virtual sports can also be split up into different groups, one event can test gamers’ strategic planning such as StarCraft, one can test the gamers’ handling and maneuverability skills such as Grand Turismo, and one can test gamers’ accuracy and precision such as Wolfenstein 3D (remember Wolfenstien 3D?). Different factors can determine the best players, whether it’s through real-time strategy, first-person shooter, or even a basic fighting game like Mortal Kombat.

To the jock’s chagrin, video game manufacturers are starting to integrate physical aspects to video games. Since the dawn of Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero and Nintendo Wii, gamers are starting to be more engaged with video games that motivate them to get up and moving. Xbox Kinect and other motion sensing input devices are changing the way people play video games. Perhaps these games can one day alter certain people’s opinions and debunk the stereotype that only fat, lazy and pathetic people play video games.

It’s true: not everyone can hit a homerun, catch a touchdown pass and score a game-winning goal. But then again, not everyone can be an elite video game player. There is a skill set required and a learning curve to over come.

To many the idea of virtual sports being a part of the Olympic Games is insulting, but then again, technology advancement is inevitable—so you never know, we might be celebrating an Olympian in Mario Kart come 2020.

The Report Card: Sport spectators

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By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Feb. 17, 2014

When it comes to our favourite teams and athletes, no matter how poorly they do, we must stick by them, because that’s what a good fan does. But sporting events are polarizing experiences: whatever happens, 50 per cent of the spectators will inevitably be disappointed. So, what is the most enjoyable way to view a game, an event, and a championship tournament and still get your money’s worth?

Pass: The comfort of a home/bar

For the price of admission, you can throw yourself and your fellow sports fanatics one hell of a house party. Not that you need an excuse, but game nights are the perfect reason to get a good group of friends together. Win or lose, at least you got to spend some quality time with people who share a common interest with you.

I believe that each sport is an art form, but unlike a concert, a theatre performance, or a slam poetry reading, you don’t have to be there in person to enjoy it. That is why there are channels dedicated to sport highlights, yet none dedicated to live Shakespearean productions. The same way music can be a backdrop to a party, so too can a sporting event. It might even give you a reason to cheer at the end.

If finances are a problem (they’re always a problem), then home viewing may just be the obvious choice, but it doesn’t make for any less of a spectacle. Bars are also accommodating alternatives. Some even offer incentives on game night: for each goal scored, you’ll get a free drink or an opportunity to win a prize at the end of the night. If the odds are with you, your team might not be the only winners.

Fail: Live from the nosebleed section

Who wouldn’t want to be there live during a game seven or an Olympic gold medal game? The pandemonium of victory is an exhilarating feeling that cannot be recreated in any other form. There’s nothing like 30,000 people cheering for the same reason. But is the frenzy worth it? Personally, I don’t think so.

Live games have become a supply-and-demand market, and the price for key games are often raised to an unreasonable price. Just for an example, the price for the Heritage Classic, a regular season game between the Canucks and the Senators played in an outdoor rink at BC Place, start at $104.20 and goes as high as $324.70. It’s an once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s a moment you’ll remember forever, but mostly it’s a publicity stunt—an obvious gimmick—and it’s a successful one.

Fans take pride in being diehards, and in order to be considered a diehard, one must buy season tickets and attend every game religiously, decked out in authentic apparel. A diehard must be succumbed by the capitalistic culture of the sport, right?

No! Sport is not scientology; if you have more money, that doesn’t make you holier or your team better. Sure, the only way to keep the team afloat is to attend the games, thus paying the athletes and their luxurious lifestyle, but that’s not something the fans should worry about—the fans aren’t the marketing team. The fans’ only job is to cheer wholeheartedly, and they can do that with the money in their pocket, at home, with a moderately priced beer in their hands.