Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss Vince McMahon retiring from pro wrestling, Russia and Ukraine signing a deal on grain exports, the ongoing Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and more
Jason C. McLean and Special Guest FTB Sports Contributor Joe TwoFour discuss the Montreal Canadiens improbably successful Stanley Cup Playoff run, their chances in the finals and what the Habs’ success means for the city.
Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter: @jasoncmclean
Last night’s SuperBowl game may not have been the nail-biter it was supposed to be, but the halftime show was a bright spot. This was, of course, due to The Weekend’s performance, but also quite literally thanks to Montreal company PixMob.
They did this by effectively turning the audience and performers into the lighting grid with wearable technology. They gave live attendees 22 500 LED wristbands to wear and placed 30 000 adapted ones on the cardboard cutouts the NFL was using to space out the socially-distanced crowd.
Performers on the field carried powerful LEDs known as “flares”. Meanwhile, The Weekend’s choir wore 75 LED masks and 150 face shields with light-up eyes.
The whole effect was quite spectacular. Have a look, if you haven’t already:
This is PixMob’s third Super Bowl Halftime Show. In addition to the big game, they have worked on some big-name tours such as Shawn Mendes and Taylor Swift. Currently, they are using their technology to help fight the pandemic with SafeTeams, an initiative which helps events re-open safely with distancing and tracing.
Featured Image of the PixMob team ahead of last night’s Super Bowl
If there was ever a slice of stereotypical Americana to come to Canada, it was Monster Spectacular XXV. Set in Montreal’s controversial Olympic Stadium, scores of mostly white people, some with kids, some without, filed in wearing variations of denim and camo to see what was supposed to be “a three-hour show with no time-outs and non-stop high-speed breathtaking action!”
The reality was very different. Those filing into the stadium saw the field scattered with dirt, ramps, and old cars for the trucks to crush.
Within minutes the air was filled with the deafening roar of motors and a slew of monster trucks with fancy names like Backdraft, Overkill Evolution, and Bucking Bronco revved their engines and did a lap around the stadium to kick up some dust and show off their machines. Anyone with a lick of common sense was wearing earplugs, while most parents had their kids in sound muffling headphones.
The emcee for the night was a bilingual bald fellow in a black suit, white shirt, and red bowtie. If they’d added glasses to his ensemble he’d be a dead ringer for the dancing old man in the Six Flags commercials.
He announced that the event would be a competition between the drivers and their trucks, though there were no scores on the stadium’s many scoreboards. Instead audiences were treated to a slew of ads by purveyors of car parts.
The stunts were ok, with trucks going up ramps, doing low jumps, and even occasionally resting on their two back wheels. Despite the emcee’s best attempts at revving up enthusiasm, audiences only expressed any excitement when something broke or someone was at risk of getting seriously hurt, undoubtedly a throwback to the days when public floggings and executions were considered family outings.
In addition to the monster trucks, the show featured Tuff Trucks Buggies, which are basically souped up dune buggies, as well as an aerial show by some dirt bikers. The buggies were boring; aside from a couple of jumps, it was as exciting as watching kids go-carting, and the latter would probably be cheaper and more fun.
The true stars were the dirt bikers, who not only featured the only female driver, but also did dazzling jumps off a high ramp, throwing their limbs in midair before landing seamlessly. The audience loved it.
Aerial bikers aside, the show was a total bore. After the first series of jumps, the monster truck displays got repetitious. Only the sight of possibly injured drivers emerging triumphant from their damaged vehicles could summon any enthusiasm from the audience.
Even those who remembered loving shows like these as kids were disappointed. As for the children in attendance, it was hard to say, though a couple of kids a few rows down from us found it more fun to toss popcorn in the air to try and catch it in their mouths rather than take in the show.
Maybe these kinds of events are more fun when you’re drunk.
THIS IS OUR YEAR!
I am a Buffalonian, I have always been a fan of the Buffalo Bills, our NFL team.
Since I was a young child I remember going to all of the games with my Dad and Grandma. She was the biggest fan ever, yelling at opposing fans and almost getting us into fights. It was beautiful. We gave up our season tickets when she passed away, but I still take the chance to bond with my dad over a football game whenever we get the chance.
We are famous for white out amounts of snow and insanely dedicated fans. The Bills Mafia started out as a hashtag and defended Stevie Johnson on Twitter. Now they not only pound beers and smash tables they also do fundraisers and give money to Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
It’s always been a crazy scene. I can’t imagine the awesome times in the early 90s when we went to four straight Super Bowls.
That time is what us fans call The Glory Years. It must have been a heartbreaking and wild ride. I was so young that I thought our team was just supposed to be in the Super Bowl every year.
The team means so much to Buffalo. Both Donald Trump and John Bon Jovi were unsuccessful in buying the team after owner Ralph Wilson passed away several years ago. It is rumored that either of them would have moved the team to Toronto.
Too bad P Diddy wasn’t in the business yet, I hear he wants to stir up the league and buy the Carolina Panthers. He would make Colin Kaepernick his QB and take a stand against racism. Hope he does it!
Alas Terry Pegula bought the team (and the NHL Sabres too) and kept them in their hometown. I’m not the biggest fan of Pegula because he got his fortune from fracking, but that’s another story.
Now we are doing ok, maybe we will get a wild card spot in the playoffs, more hope than in years. But our fans are number one with a bullet.
Even if you are not into football, you can find amusement in these jackasses. The internet is more obsessed with them than the people of Wal Mart. Nobody circles the wagons like these crazy beautiful bastards.
Tailgating is an extreme sport here. Everything Zubaz, team jersey of choice and maybe a foam chicken wing hat as a uniform. The game is chugging beers in creative ways like jet fuel, open sex acts, and generally behaving badly.
Even though now we haven’t even been to the playoffs in over a decade, the Buffalo Bills have the most wild fans in the league. They are the self proclaimed Bills Mafia and are in fact in a league of their own as far as super fandom goes.
The tailgate and shenanigans outside of New Era Stadium are more exciting than the plays on the field. It is superb and completely next level. “Buffalo Fucking New York, If you do not bleed red, white, and blue then get the fuck out!” is a t-shirt that I have that really captures the spirit of these people.
These people are savage! Going to a game is like watching National Geographic Channel and getting to see wild and unusual animals in their natural habitat.
Alcohol is the key to success at a Bills Game, not just a little, a LOT, like black out drunk is what we are going for here. It is not out of the ordinary for a Bills fan to body slam a folding table that is on fire (or throw their girlfriend through one).
Beer bongs and other funnel apparatuses are used to lube up the fans and get them ready for greatness. Some of the best moments of fans in action have included (but are not limited to) blowing coke off of each other and fucking in the stands (or in the parking lot or the bathroom), chugging beers down an ass luge, flaming and non flaming table smashes and throwing their buddies through stuff. The occasional boxing match and a lot of public urination are all common occurrences.
When I tried to use the restroom inside the game it was closed because two “extremely drunk” girls had puked all over it. Stay classy Buffalo gals! It always amazes me what people are capable of.
The last game I went to with my Dad was against the New Orleans Saints. The Bills were murdered. They beat us in every way possible. Then it happened. A tattooed angel in the nude ran over 100 yards across the field only to lose his footing and eventually be tackled by security. Check out the video.
He ran for more yards than the Bills that day. I couldn’t believe my eyes! My dad was a convicted streaker in the 70’s so he just laughed.
This was way better than when someone threw a dildo on the field. It was a perfect moment. Tristen Lambright is now a Buffalebrity. He is part of the local roller derby scene and known as Señor Weiner. The photos caught of him were the best. His huge smile made it all worthwhile.
I couldn’t believe it again when about a month later he was going to be the guest at a night I was performing burlesque. I thought it was funny that the internet was so obsessed with his tattoos so I re-created them on two nude suits with beautiful plushie peens made by my friend Jess Widmer and my bestie’s actual hair for realism.
The sweet tats included a hot dog with a sombrero on roller-skates, a mushroom cloud with WWJD, a Dead Milkmen cow, and a pinup with a dino head. The fucked up thing is that I didn’t have to look far to find CLOSE UP zoomed in photos of all his tattoos.
It’s bizarre what the internet runs with. I don’t know what is weirder, that I looked for the images or that they existed to begin with. I wonder if he is planning to get a Bills tattoo in the near future?
After the show we met him and he did notice that we copied his tats. I was proud lol. My bestie and I both became the streaker! We were the ultimate creepers. The song mix started out with The Bills Shout song and went into Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen and ended with Fight for Your Right to Party by the Beastie Boys.
All out insanity ensued as we ran around the club, weaving in and out of people laughing only to both get tackled by our friends in security gear on stage. Life is wonderful! I was out of breath for the rest of the night after that sprint.
This guy is literally becoming (in)famous just for running around naked. I have been naked on stage for 10 years. That means there is hope for me. At least for local stardom.
It’s not all fun and games though. I did read some comments that made me think from a more feminist perspective. A woman commented that she didn’t ask to see his dick and that she is sick of cis white men thinking they can just do whatever they want.
I agree! Glorifying someone for exposing themselves is wrong and weird, but I really do think it was all just in fun, there was nothing sexual about the jaunt. I am a proud nudist and love doing the naked bike ride, nude is not lewd! Everyone has a naked suit.
He was so far away from the crowd that nobody could really get a good look at his frank and beans. Lewdness was the final charge. He did face a hefty fine and legal fees as well (even though a local bar threw a benefit to help pay the fees).
When I met him after my show he admitted that he was super drunk and that it was a total impulse move to run the field naked. He was Buffalo winging it!
That night his package was tightly wrapped in Bills print boxer briefs. The harder core fans are just jelly that they didn’t do it first. So many bros dream of making such a splash on the big field but only one man dared to do it.
At the end of the day he will just go down as being the Don of the Bills Mafia, the happy naked guy wearing nothing but a smile and his tattoos as he ran to freedom (well, as he ran to being tackled, rain coat wrapped, and shackled). I thought the black eye was a bit much, give it up for police brutality.
No matter how well the Bills do, there will always be dedicated fans out there one upping each other and streaking, slamming through tables, blowing chunks, and blowing lines for the rest of us.
Let’s go BUFF-alo!
From French commentators calling Japanese gymnasts “little pikachus” to media systematically crediting male coaches for female athletes’ achievements, the coverage of the 2016 Olympics is accumulating mishaps. Not that it’s anything new.
Once every two years, sport journalists are thrust in a spotlight of epic proportions. Every media tries to make the most of it, scrambling to find a commentator who has the faintest idea about the rules of slalom canoeing. Not only are mistakes bound to happen, but they are bound to be heard by a greater audience than ever.
One of the most disturbing effect of all this live, unfiltered, commentary are some shockingly racist comments appearing on national television. France Télévisions’ Thomas Bouhail kept comparing Japanese gymnasts to pokemons and mangas. CBC’s Byron MacDonald had to apologize after saying a Chinese swimmer “died like a pig.”
The lack of technical knowledge is forgivable. As a gymnastics fan, hearing nonsense like “piked salto with straddled legs” about a bar release certainly makes me wince, but I have to appreciate the challenge of commenting on sports – especially ones you only have a passable knowledge of – in real time.
What I take offence to is commentators who palliate their lack of knowledge with relentless remarks about every competitor’s age, appearance or nationality that are redundant, irrelevant and bordering on prejudice.
Take young Chinese gymnast Wan Yang. She was wonderfully consistent in Rio, qualified for two of the four event finals and came sixth all-around. Listening to Radio-Canada’s announcers, though, you would think that the most interesting thing about her is that she is 4’6″.
I swear more than half of their commentary about Chinese women’s gymnastics was an extended exercise in variations of the terms small or tiny. The rest of it was mostly preconceived notions about what China was good or bad at with little regard to what was actually happening at the moment.
I particularly resent one commentator discoursing on the lack of artistic delivery, amplitude and good connections in Chinese floor while Yang delivered a brilliant performance that presented none of these problems. The same commentator, in a remarkable impression of a well-meaning but obnoxious uncle, exclaimed that Yang “looks 12 or 13, ahahahah.”
Radio-Canada is not a lone sinner. It’s amazing how much of the coverage of women’s artistic gymnastics is still a long-exhausted running commentary on how young and tiny gymnasts are.
Not only is it annoying and besides the point, it’s deeply rooted in racial and gender bias.
How often have you heard about the height of male gymnasts, this year (yes, male gymnasts too are notably short)? Which brings us to Olympic coverage’s other most enraging aspect:
The world of sport journalism is very unwelcoming to women, be they athletes or journalists.
Has this issue been explored before?
Do we need to keep talking about it?
Well, let’s take a look at a couple of things that actually happened in the last two weeks:
- Canadian swimmer Penny Oleksiak breaks an Olympic record and wins four medals: Toronto Sun’s cover gives her the nickname “Pretty Penny.”
- American Corey Cogdell wins a bronze medal in trapshooting (her second one in three Olympics): Chicago Tribune refers to her as “wife of a Bears’ lineman” in a tweet, omitting her name.
- Majlinda Kelmendi wins the first Olympic medal for Kosovo, in 52Kg Judo: A BBC commentator calls the final a catfight.
- Women’s rugby sevens make their debut at the Olympics: France TV’s commentary includes a consultant calling the French players “little darlings” and saying they are cuter and more feminine than the Americans.
I recommend you devote four minutes of your time to have a look at this spot from Vox’s Wide World of Sexism (I promise you it’s worth it).
Why are Olympic commentators so bad at commenting on women’s sports? Probably because they never do it.
A Canadian study published this year highlighted how little attention women’s sports usually get. In 2014, National newspapers only devoted 5,1% of their sports coverage to women’s sports. National sports channels had similar performances.
This is despite the fact that Canadian female athletes have excelled more than ever on the international scene in the past couple of years. As of this morning, women have won 14 of Canada’s 18 medals in Rio. Nonetheless, according to the same study, 99,5% of sponsorship sums are still awarded to male athletes.
Female athletes who actually make it to the news don’t have it that much easier. Another recent study by Cambridge University Press analyzed 20 years and seven billion words of media coverage of male and female athletes. They found striking differences in the vocabulary used to describe them.
Male athletes were found to be often described with words like strong, fastest or great. Words often associated with their female counterparts included married, unmarried and pregnant.
Women in sports were likely to be referred to as ladies or girls, whereas the terms boys and gentlemen were rarely used.
The researchers also observed a particularity in the usage of the word women. We talk about Women’s football, women’s golf, women’s cycling. But we never see men’s football or men’s golf, do we? Usain Bolt won the 100 meter dash. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the women’s 100 meter dash.
BBC’s John Inverdale gave a prime example of the mentality this is linked to when he asked Andy Murray how it felt to be the first person ever to win two Olympic golds in tennis. Because Serena and Venus Williams won about four each… in Women’s tennis.
Women are a huge part of sports. They should be a huge part of the coverage of sports too.
*Featured image from the Nirvana News Youtube Channel
The Montreal Alouettes have gotten accustomed to making headlines with major signings, like last year’s arrival of Chad Johnson and Duron Carter. This year the Als are making headlines for another reason: they’ve signed the first openly gay professional football player, Michael Sam.
The CFL has become a breeding ground for some of the best, most intuitive defensive players, à la Cameron Wake. Up here defenses have to step it up in to cover the large backfield, and for defensive ends this usually means the increased difficulty of coverage develops them into solid NFL players.
So it is no surprise that after exhausting all options, Michael Sam is giving the Canadian game a shot. If Sam plays well here, he could have a real chance at getting back into the NFL. That would make him the first openly gay athlete playing in one of the big four (MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA).
Of course this will really depend on whether are not Sam plays with heart in the CFL. It is expected that he will.
Memories of Jackie Robinson
The Alouettes’ signing of Michael Sam continues the story of Montreal being a gateway to acceptance in pro sports. Our great city, it seems, has always been at the forefront of breaking barriers.
Everyone knows the story of Jackie Robinson, who played for the Montreal Royals in 1947, and who would become the first African American to play in the baseball in the National League. Both Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette and Michael Farber of TSN brought up the city’s history when talking about Sam this week.
Is Michael Sam the new Jackie Robinson? Well, yes and no.
While Michael Sam has faced adversity due to his sexual orientation just as Jackie did due to race, a few of the commenters on Michael Farber’s post called it an unfair comparison, arguing Jackie Robinson had a much better skill set. While that may be true—symbolically it’s similar because it is the first gesture, the first opening of real acceptance.
Montreal Helps Break Barriers that Need to be Broken
To realize its importance all you have to do is think of the about all the men and woman that play sport and have to keep their identities secret. They might have the talent to play hockey, soccer or football but are too afraid to pursue their career because of how their orientation may be viewed by fans and teammates.
Shouldn’t sport represent the public. A portion of our population is gay, yet how is it we know of no current professional athletes playing team sports who are? Obviously it is not really possible to continue this culture of secrecy in sport, because now we know so much about the personal lives for sports celebrities in the internet age.
We don’t ask heterosexual players keep their lives secret, why do we do so for athletes who are members of the LGBT community?
Hiring and playing the first openly gay professional football player not only adds to Montreal’s reputation as a gay-friendly city, it also shows the kind of reception we give to high calibre athletes regardless of colour, creed or sexual orientation.
As for Michael, he chose the right place to play. He just wants to keep this signing in perspective: “I’m just trying to help the team win some games so we can bring the Grey Cup back home,” said Sam speaking at an Alouettes press conference on Tuesday.
For now, while he might be breaking barriers, Michael Sam just wants to be seen as a regular football player. Just as Jackie Robinson wanted to be seen as a regular baseball player, and did so in Montreal, so many years ago.