2010 was a banner year for controversy in the world of sports media. From the usual barrage of accidental profanity, to the fairly untrodden territory of Twitter faux pas, up to and including the cultural phenomenon that was athletes taking pictures of their penises and sending them to everybody, this year really did have it all if you enjoyed watching people make fools of themselves.
From now until December 30th we’ll be going through our favorite oopsies from the year that was. So come and join us, won’t you, as we count down the Top Ten Sports Media Gaffes of the Year! Today’s gaffe: Jeremy Roenick is overcome with emotion after the Stanley Cup Finals.
When you’re an ex-player who’s moved to the announcing booth – but still not too far removed from your playing days – it has to be difficult separating your emotions regarding what happens down on the field (or court, or ice, whatever the case may be) from the analytical, impartial side of your brain you’re supposed to exclusively use in front of the cameras. Former NHL star Jeremy Roenick had a moment after the end of the Stanley Cup Finals where the former won out over the latter – and got mocked for it.
Quick recap of the background: The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers. Roenick broke into the NHL – and had his best years – with the Blackhawks, and later spent three years with the Flyers. He served as an analyst for NBC for this year’s Finals, and after the Blackhawks clinched, became overcome with emotion while talking about it:
So why might Roenick be looked at as a “crybaby,” as that video calls him? Well, the tears, obviously, but beyond that. The person who uploaded the above video (there are, unsurprisingly, several versions of it on Youtube) called it “the most awkward moment in sports television history.” I wouldn’t go that far, but it did have to be a little weird for anyone unfamiliar with Roenick’s backstory.
Additionally, I can see why Philadelphia fans wouldn’t be too fond of it. Here’s a guy they once rooted for, once one of the centerpieces of an attempt to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup 1975…and he’s moved to tears when they lose.
But I can also see why Chicago fans would have no problem with it. He spent more time with the Blackhawks (eight seasons) than any other team, and as mentioned above, they were not only his first team, but the team with whom he had his best seasons. How won’t that team hold a special place for you. Plus, as David Matthews noted at the time, Roenick and the ‘Hawks didn’t part on the best of terms:
He had given the best years of his life to the Hawks only to get dismissed and [longtime Blackhawks owner Bill] Wirtzed out of town after months of trying to get a contract extension.
Put yourself in his place: The team that you carried on your back for eight years only to get kicked to the curb won a Stanley Cup the year you retired and became a studio analyst, and now Dan Patrick is pointing out that you “didn’t get to do that.”
In addition to the larger point, there’s another good subtler issue raised here: Roenick didn’t cry at first. He was (barely) holding it together, then Patrick said, “I can tell – you’re emotional. Why’s it affecting you?” He might as well have just said, “TEARS, you fool! TEARS!” while cutting onions and force-feeding Roenick habanero peppers…all while the pent-up emotion in Roenick over his time in Chicago came to a head.
OK, so Roenick’s job was to be an objective analyst. Saying, “Chicago Blackhawks, man. I didn’t get to do that. It’s pretty unbelievable,” through tears did not constitute that, and is why this moment constitutes any sort of “gaffe.”
But it was also a genuine display of emotion, and I’m willing to forgive a lot for that. (How was someone with Roenick’s history, and well-documented passion, supposed to remain objective anyway?) After all that transpired between him and the team, Roenick has feelings for Chicago, and the Blackhawks, that remain as strong as ever. And that’s why, in my mind, this item is, in an unironic sense, the best on this generally-not-so-illustrious top 10 list.
The Top Ten Sports Media Gaffes of 2010