Hockey fans across North America are lamenting the inclusion of their sport in the latest commercial from tech corporation/culture club Apple, Inc. Long the purview of an obscure, insular group of enthusiasts, hockey’s showcase on the Super Bowl (R) of American trendsetting is sure to bring new eyeballs to the game. Unwanted eyeballs, according to Regina, Saskatchewan resident and hockey blogger Michael Andreczyk. This is the Sports met Andreczyk at McCharlie’s, a local eatery famous for it’s “Curse of Ham ‘n’ Eggs” breakfast platter.
“I was like ‘No. Oh no,’ ” Andreczyk said in his hilarious, mooselike Canadian accent. “Folks prancing around the ice in their skinny jeans and their scarves, and the glasses…. oh no.” It took great effort for This is the Sports not to spit out his Black Death-Metal Cherry Sportsade at the last “oh no.” But listen past the throat-nasality evocative of a learning-disabled children’s party clown, and his concern evokes sympathy.
The 30-second spot, airing on NBC and the NBC Sports Network (formerly VERSUS; lost) during NHL games, goes like this: Under an upbeat Fleet Foxes cover of Nine Inch Nails‘s “Closer”, two lines of dressed-as-you’d-imagine young people slip-slide in toward an iPhone 4GS with a picture of a hockey puck on its screen. The smiling, laughing group passes the iBiscuit back and forth until one of the presumed wingers nudges a too-cool-for-school shot towards a goaltender wearing a hockey mask tricked out to look like a bright yellow smiley face. The puck on the screen bursts into flame, the goalie whiffs the save, turns around, and the phone– wait for it– has burned a hole through the back of the net. Adorably coiffed heads peer through the hole, voice-over says something about being even faster than before, Apple logo, fin.
“That’s not what the game is aboot about,” Andreczyk continued. Where’s the hard hittin’? Where’s the goalie with the rubber spine, eh? None of those kids in that commercial were missin’ any teeth! Hell, they didn’t even have skates on!” His eyes held a pleading look before he peered down despondently into his Sportsade Chernobylemon-lime.
After lunch, we walked over to the sports shop, where This is the Sports spotted a young, light-skinded [but not quite redbone] African-Amer–, well, “black”, I guess, in Canada– man, with Tina Fey glasses and the kind of afro black people don’t wear anymore, checking out some hockey sweaters. We overheard him ask the sales associate if they had any sweaters of teams that were big in the ’80s but don’t exist anymore. Once This is the Sports gave Andreczyk unspoken approval to speak negatively of another black person in This is the Sports‘s presence, Andreczyk lamented openly (still beginning with the obligatory “it’s not ’cause he’s–“shoulder-shrug–“y’know, but”). “I’m just really worried about what’s gonna happen to the game I love– the game my country loves– if these guys take it over.”
This is the Sports couldn’t help but nod in understanding. It’s a tough spot Andreczyk and his fellow hockey fans have found themselves in. Sure you wanna share your love, but you’d like to do it on your own terms, in your own time. Then this commercial comes out, and all of a sudden the biggest company in the United States (and the subculture that follows it) is poised to make you its girl. Whether you like it or not.
–Rony Josaphat. Ooooooooee.