From the Vault of WaPost’s True Colors, Exhibit no. 106

The Washington Post - 15th StreetDuring a standard, weekly online chat with readers yesterday Washington Post columnist/ESPN personality/general big media blowhard Michael Wilbon fielded questions on the minds of some Washington sports fans. As you might imagine, the news of the Sean Taylor shooting was of paramount interest and concern. But there were queries also on the Wizards, college football, and the NFL more generally.
One questioner, however, deigned to raise a discussion of the NHL and the Caps’ firing of Glen Hanlon. Rather topically appropriate in the calendar of the chat, wouldn’t you say? Take note first of the professionalism Wilbon exhibited in his initial reaction to the serious, sober, and newsworthy in its timeliness inquiry from the hockey fan, then note also Wilbon’s admission of excluding himself from the arena the home to one of the planet’s most gifted athletes, for fully a year:

Maryland: Mike, I know there’s not much hockey talk in these chat houses, but what are your thoughts on the Caps changing coaches? In today’s world of sports where “players win and coaches lose,” obviously it had to be done . . . but do in-season coaching changes stir up enough of a team’s juices to really make a difference? Thanks. Hanlon Out as Caps’ Coach (Post, Nov. 23)
Michael Wilbon: Do you actually pay attention to the NHL? Teams change coaches like they change underwear. They change them going into the playoffs after some other coach got the team into the playoffs. The Devils have done this and won the Stanley Cup … or at least gotten to the Finals. Are you kidding? Does it help? Hockey players seem to react to a change in coaches like no other team sport athletes. I’m not about to speculate on the Capitals switch because I haven’t seen the Capitals in person in over a year … I simply don’t follow the NHL the way I did as a kid, teenager, young adult or young sportswriter … there aren’t enough hours in the day, days in the week or weeks in the year to follow everything, even for guys like me who are paid to follow sports. The NHL is what I dropped, as I’ve increasingly gotten into soccer and (lately) NASCAR … and it seems, from looking at attendance figures, I’m not the only one who has dropped out lately.

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18 Responses to From the Vault of WaPost’s True Colors, Exhibit no. 106

  1. The Peerless says:

    “…The NHL is what I dropped, as I‚Äôve increasingly gotten into soccer and (lately) NASCAR…”
    So let’s see…hockey…soccer…he’s given up a sport that is faster, has more flow (with on-the-fly substitutions), has more intricate geometries, requires quicker decisions, has goalies that don’t stand around for 20-minutes on end, and has more hitting-less diving for…
    …guys in short pants.
    Well, he is a basketball fan, so one supposes it figures.

  2. Kevin says:

    Obviously I don’t like the fact that he basically said the NHL isn’t worth covering as a mainstream sports writer, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Hockey’s popularity is not what it used to be for a number of reasons (though Gary Bettman is at the top of the list). The emergence of other sports such as soccer and NASCAR (which in my opinion is as much of a sport as the spelling bee or a chess tournament) has diluted the number fans who follow the NHL. With Caps attendance rates stagnating at the bottom of the NHL, it is not surprising that he hasn’t ventured into the Verizon Center (which at times can double for Mellon Arena or Joe Louis Arena). Wilbon, for all his flaws, is merely covering what people are interested in… even if it is NASCAR.

  3. Mark Tucker says:

    Michael Wilbon?
    Isn’t he Kornholio’s sidekick?
    Does this really bother anyone?
    He’s an ESPN talking head to boot, so this surprises me how?

  4. B.ORR4 says:

    Michael Wilbon is to serious journalism as Britney Spears is to musical talent.

  5. Todd says:

    I’ll counter with the fact that as I have gone through my teen, young adult, and adult years, and my free time has gotten more and more limited, I find myself reading the Washington Post less and less.

  6. !!!
    Parry and thrust, Todd!
    Good on you.

  7. Reminds me of a comment that Gene Weingarten made in his chat today:
    “I find Hockey totally ridiculous, on TV or in person. It is supposedly “a ballet masquerading as a brawl,” but I don’t see it. It seems like a ballet performed by 250 pound guys wearing galoshes. And all the goals seem to be scored by accident.”
    I pity him.

  8. The Deuce says:

    While I agree with you that it’s sad Wilbon no longer follows hockey like he used to, I don’t think he meant that first sentence in a “I can’t believe you still watch hockey, no one else does” kind of way. He’s made the comment on his show several times that NHL coaches are “hired to be fired,” and that teams fire coaches all the time. So I think he was trying to say it in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, as in, “Don’t you follow hockey? This happens all the time. See Devils, NJ.” That’s my two cents, anyway. Don’t be too hard on Wilbon — he did wear a Canucks Trevor Linden jersey for Halloween!

  9. VT Caps Fan says:

    1st off Wilbon’s an idiot. He proved it earlier that chat with his comments about Taylor.
    2nd) wasn’t Wilbon the one who called out all of Washington sports fans for not going to see Patrick Roy earn his NHL record for victories; then called the caps a disgrace for not being able to sell it out.
    and another thing, Wilbon, you are what is wrong with the sports media; you claim Chicago is the greatest sports town in the world (I do not believe he follows the ‘hawks, and there own attendance issues) but that’s why you pissed a lot more people off when you became a White Sox fan when they were in the world series.
    Wilbon’s worthless.

  10. Zack says:

    Why should we fault Wilbon for not being a hockey fan? I respect him for always being open and honest about his feelings, including when they may be perceived as controversial (see Sean Taylor comments).

  11. OrderedChaos says:

    Zack, he doesn’t have to be a hockey fan… but as a professional sport in his hometown market, being so dismissive of the Caps is, well, unprofessional.

  12. Grooven says:

    It’s fine if he doesn’t pay attention to hockey. Instead of making himself look bad by saying that coaches change all the time, he should say:
    “Let me tell you, I have no idea how coaching changes affect hockey players or a team. I used to follow hockey, but no longer do. You should ask someone like Tarik who understands much more of the nuance of the sport than I do.”
    He may be a very smart guy about some sports, but when it comes to hockey he certainly makes himself seem like a moron. And even if he follows soccer, his knowledge of it is about as bad as hockey too. He basically jumped on the Beckham bandwagon.

  13. Shmee says:

    I’ve just completely stopped reading him. Its ridiculous that he gets paid money to dicuss sports, but doesnt bother to see AO for over a year, while living in DC.

  14. Caps Nut says:

    “Unprofessional” huh? Interesting choice of words there…
    So this blog has never been “unprofessional” and bashed a local professional sports team?
    It isn’t “unprofessional” to attribute the well-known and well-documented beliefs of a single columnist to his entire sports department and publication?
    Tell me, what do you think of the “professionalism” New York Sports Media which makes a cottage industry of bashing their local professional sports franchises?

  15. Gustafsson says:

    I fail to see what the New York Sports Media has to do with Washington or this blog.
    We are a hockey blog.
    He is a ‚Äúsports‚Ä? professional paid to write about ‚Äúsports‚Ä?. Unless his contract reads ‚Äúevery sport except hockey.‚Ä?
    I would say we are more professional allowing the reader to express his or her concern/comments/warped view with not only ourselves, but our readers. Something others, for whatever reason, fail to do.

  16. B.ORR4 says:

    Sounds like Caps Nut works for the Post.

  17. Caps Nut says:

    Ah yes, deleted once again…
    Why I am not surprised???
    Whatever you do guys, please, please don’t ever prove my point for me…
    Because we all know that ingoring me will make me go away sooner…

  18. Gustafsson says:

    Amazing how brave people are behind the keyboard and cower when meeting face to face.
    Although people who do not allow comments on their site and say they don’t care about others, surely must — or they wouldn’t feel the need to comment on everyone else’s.
    There is a reason some people are on a short leash.

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