Prime Time Sports Review for August 9, 2012

By Ami Angelwings

Prime Time Sports, August 9, 2012

4pm hour – Bob McCown hosting

First segment: Interview with Doug Smith, Toronto Star basketball reporter

  • Bob discusses the Canadian women’s soccer team winning bronze with Doug, and what a boring game it was and how badly dominated Canada was
  • Bob and Doug have a debate about whether the Canadian player was offside when the goal was scored
  • Doug believes that this win may help Canadian soccer and Canadian women’s soccer get more corporate support
  • Bob wonders if John Herdman might be a good candidate to coach the men’s team, Doug says he could very well be if he gets success at the 2015 women’s world cup
  • Bob and Doug discuss Doug’s piece ranking the Olympics


Bob sounded really disinterested in talking about the game at the beginning.  He has this voice he uses sometimes where you can tell he wants to move on, or that he’s not interested in this topic and that was everywhere at the beginning.  He seemed much more interested in what the impact would be than the actual game, or discussing the Canadian women’s performance.  At least, this time, it sounded like he watched the game.

I wish a discussion about the success of the women’s national team wouldn’t become all about whether or not their coach will coach the men’s team.  I wouldn’t bring this up if this doesn’t become a recurring theme in this show, but it crops up in the interview with Nigel Reed later as well.  Yet again, it appears Bob doesn’t want to talk about the specifics of a soccer game, or talk about women’s sports, and tries to shift the conversation to the administrative side of Canadian men’s soccer.

Second segment: Interview with Michael Hiestand, columnist for USA Today

  • Hiestand starts off talking about women’s soccer and that Canada was jobbed against the US, he & Bob briefly discuss the Bronze medal match
  • Hiestand says that the interest in women’s soccer in the US is because the team is winning and the best in the world
  • Bob and Hiestand discuss NBC’s coverage of the Olympics
  • Hiestand says it’s surprising that the ratings are going to be even higher than for Beijing, believes it’s about Americans winning in sexy events
  • Discussion about the new season of the NFL’s Hard Knocks, and whether the signing of Chad Johnson was related to that, both Bob and Hiestand believe it is


I like listening to Hiestand’s thoughts, and I enjoyed listening to him talking about how Americans view the Olympics.  Bob sounded annoyed at the beginning again, because I think he didn’t expect to be talking soccer again.  He became a lot more at ease as the interview shifted to NBC, Olympics ratings and the NFL, and it was a lot more enjoyable to listen to.  I don’t expect Hiestand to be interviewed about women’s soccer, much less Canadian women’s soccer, so I didn’t mind the topic change, and I found the interview in general to be very listenable and informative.


5pm hour – Bob McCown hosting, John Shannon (Sportsnet hockey insider) co-hosting

First Segment: Interview with Bob Nicholson, president of Hockey Canada

  • Bob Nicholson starts off talking excitedly about the Canadian women’s soccer team winning bronze, suggests that people should celebrate in the streets, Bob doesn’t think we should go that far, acknowledges many people cared about the match
  • Nicholson continues talking about how proud he is about the women’s team, Bob asks if he gets international television in English in Yaroslavl, Nicholson says he doesn’t
  • Nicholson talks about how nice the set up in Yaroslavl is, and how the only thing missing is Bob and John, Bob jokes that his invitation got lost in the mail, Shannon misses the joke and is confused about not being invited
  • Nicholson talks about how great the Canada-Russia tournament has been so far, and how much more useful it is than having an intersquad game to train the Canadian players
  • Nicholson speaks about the memorial for the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team
  • Bob asks Nicholson about his efforts in getting the NHL to allow NHL players to participate in the Sochi Olympics, Nicholson says he is hopeful that they will be, talks about how important it is for them to be there to grow the game of hockey
  • Bob discusses with Nicholson whether it’s possible to pay the players for their participation and Nicholson says it’s difficult to figure out how to split the revenue from Olympic hockey
  • Post-interview, Shannon talks about how the IIHF/IOC could have done more to make the NHL owners care more about the Olympics, he suggests giving them private boxes and allowing team medical staff access to the players


Poor Bob, EVERYBODY wants to talk women’s soccer today!  I noticed he carefully worded how much other people cared about the game, he didn’t say that he, himself, was excited.  I loved Nicholson’s excitement about the win, it made me happy to hear.

I noted John not getting the joke because it really stood out, not because I want to pick on him.  The full exchange went:

Bob: “I guess my invitation got lost in the mail… I don’t know about yours Shannon.”

John: “… I… uh… no. I was never invited to go to Russia, Bob.”

Bob: “No, no, I wasn’t either, that’s what I was saying.”

Shannon legitimately sounded like he didn’t understand that Bob was joking, and it was a little odd.  I felt bad for him. 🙁

The rest of the interview was pretty good.  Maybe a little more discussion about the actual game, or the players involved might have been more topical given that the tournament is why they have Nicholson on, but I enjoyed the discussion they had.  I thought Nicholson sounded genuinely moved by the tribute to the Yaroslavl hockey team, and I credit John Shannon for bringing it up.

The post-interview discussion was John Shannon at his finest.  He brought up two great points about what the IIHF/IOC could have done to make the Olympics more attractive to NHL owners, and I thought they were really creative and insightful thoughts.

Bob calls Daren Millard, “Darren Rovell” as the show goes to commercial break.

Second Segment: Daren Millard, Sportsnet reporter

  • Bob asks Daren Millard about Usain Bolt, and Millard talks about how amazing he is and what a great personality he has
  • Shannon believes Bolt has matured, Millard thinks that people just misunderstood Bolt in Beijing and they mistook showmanship for showboating
  • Bob asks Millard about Tonya Verbeek’s silver medal, Millard says she’s done way more than a lot of the Canadian athletes in more popular sports and thinks she deserves more attention than she gets
  • Millard criticizes the Canadian Olympic performance this year, and the lack of gold, specifically any gold in track, or the pool, or rowing


I really enjoyed Millard’s opinions in this segment, and I was impressed he was willing to so honestly criticize the Canadian athletes for not winning gold and doing better in their events.  It’s not that I agree with him, but I find it refreshing to hear a reporter that’s part of the consortium to give such honest criticism.

Third Segment: Talk Segment about the Canadian women’s soccer team

  • Bob believes the Canadian women’s soccer team is the story of London for Canada, Shannon asks him why, Bob says he doesn’t know, then says that it’s because it completes the storyline of the team, and the controversy drew the attention of the country
  • Bob believes that it’s easier for Canada to care about success in team sports than individual sports
  • Shannon says that Americans are better at marketing individual sports, Bob disagrees and an argument ensues
  • Shannon notes that there’s so many sports in the Olympics, Bob asks him which he would get rid of and Shannon says synchronized diving
  • Bob thinks that the Olympics need a cannonball competition


I think Bob is forced to admit that the Women’s team is the biggest story because, so far, all but one of his guests opened the interview by talking about them.


6pm hour – Bob McCown hosting, John Shannon (Sportsnet hockey insider) co-hosting

First Segment: Interview with Nigel Reed, host of the Soccer Show (FAN590, 9-10pm, Thursdays)

  • Further discussion about Bob’s cannonball competition idea
  • Bob discusses with John and Nigel what the impact of the Women’s soccer team’s success is, if it makes Canada more of a soccer nation, and if it encourages more male athletes to stream into soccer rather than other sports
  • Shannon says that there are more kids playing soccer than hockey, but when they get to 16, they stop playing, Nigel thinks that it’s important to let boys know that you can make a living playing soccer, Nigel notes that there’s no place for women to make a living playing soccer
  • Bob points out that very few professional leagues for any women’s sports succeed and that women continue to play sports without that economic carrot, but men can make a lot of money at sports, and they will choose to go into the sports they think they can have the most success at a career
  • Bob says that there needs to be some carrot to encourage elite Canadian athletes to go into soccer rather than other sports, and believes that carrot has to be Canadians in the premiership
  • Bob and Nigel argue about whether Major League Soccer counts as a professional league to aspire to
  • Shannon asks Nigel if Canada has an “exit strategy” for the women’s team, so that Canada isn’t looking back at London but forward to the 2015 World Cup in Canada
  • Nigel gives suggestions on how, and then wonders whether it’s possible to move that interest from the women’s team to the men’s team
  • Bob suggests that the reason Canada is better at women’s soccer than men’s soccer is because Canada got in on the ground floor, and that Canada often gets into new sports earlier than other countries
  • Bob asks Nigel what the differences between the two teams are, Nigel suggests the coach change may have been a difference-maker, Bob worries he will be poached by another country to be their head coach, Nigel says it’s a possibility


Why is a discussion with a soccer expert on the women’s soccer team’s success at the Olympics, about men’s soccer?  There wasn’t anything about the game, or about their performance in the games in general, or any other analysis.  The interview was almost all about how to make more boys play soccer, how to improve the Canadian men’s national team, how to get more elite male athletes in soccer.  Isn’t this a discussion to have after the Olympics, in the afterglow?  This is two interviews that were about women’s soccer that Bob has made into a discussion about the business/administrative aspects of men’s soccer.  To be fair though, Nigel Reed seemed to want to talk about the men more than the women as well.

I give a lot of credit to Shannon for asking about how the Canadian soccer people will handle transitioning the focus from the Olympics to the World Cup, becuase he was trying to bring the discussion back into focus, but Nigel brought it back to men’s soccer without prompting from Bob.

I think Bob misses something in his analysis of why Canada is one of the few countries good at women’s soccer.  It’s not just Canada getting into sports early, but that Canada is a wealthy country that has more social freedom on what girls can do, and more of an acceptance on women competing in sports.  The countries that tend to be best at women’s sports, especially team sports, are countries like America, Canada, Australia, Sweden, who are all countries that are wealthy, and more accepting of feminism, OR they are Communist countries like China and the former Soviet Union that recognize that wasting half your population when they can be winning medals for you is foolish.

This is not criticizing Bob for not mentioning it, I just wanted to add my own thoughts.

Second Segment: Interview with James Pasternak, Toronto City Councillor

  • Bob opens by voicing his opposition to Toronto attempting an Olympic bid, mentions how much money cities lose
  • Interview begins, Pasternak agrees with Bob and says he believes that partnering with Buffalo will reduce costs
  • Bob tells Pasternak to look at what Toronto has that could be used to host the Olympics, and points out that Toronto has almost nothing required, including housing
  • Pasternak says that that is why they need Buffalo, Bob and John point out how inadequate the Buffalo facilities are
  • Pasternak admits that stadia are not worth the investment, but that the transit system would be improved by an Olympic games, Bob counters that they should just build the transit they need without spending on additional Olympic games


Passion!  I love hearing Bob be passionate about a subject, and we all know that he’s very passionate about Olympic bids being a terrible decision for Toronto.  The interview itself wasn’t really much of one as much as a debate.  Pasternak didn’t have a good answer for Bob about why the various levels of government can’t just spend the money to build transit instead of spending even more money on the Olympics.  He sounded a little out of his element in general, and he was caught very badly off guard when talking about Buffalo’s facilities.

Third Segment: Talk segment about the problems with Toronto getting the Olympics

  • Bob and John both agree that the Olympics are money losers and Toronto doesn’t have the facilities to support it without spending a lot of money
  • Shannon thinks that James Pasternak sounds like somebody on Glendale city council
  • Bob reiterates that if Toronto needs transit, the governments should spend on giving Toronto transit rather than requiring an Olympics


I completely agree with Bob, so I liked his rant.  No new arguments were raised by either Shannon or Bob, however.

Final Thoughts:

Bob finally talked about the Olympics and what’s happening at the games!  Unfortunately, he almost completely avoided talking about the women’s soccer team, and managed to segue two segments about them into a discussion about men’s soccer in Canada.  I don’t have any problem with discussing the impact the women’s success might have on the men’s game, but in the wake of the Bronze medal win, a little more attention should have been paid to the women’s team.  As Bob even admitted, it’s the biggest story of the games for Canada, and Bob tried his hardest not to talk about it.  There was no discussion about Christine Sinclair, the performance over all, or any other subject related to the team, and that was very disappointing to me.  Even the talk segment where Bob said that the women’s soccer win was the biggest Canadian story at the Olympics somehow turned into Bob talking about wanting cannonball diving in the Olympics.  For what the segments were though, they were decently interesting, and Nigel Reed had some good insights into soccer in Canada.

On the bright side, I think John Shannon did an above average job as co-host today, and he was at his best when discussing the NHL participation in the Olympics.  I also give him full marks for trying to keep the soccer discussion on the women’s team.  Daren Millard was the other highlight of the show, and, as I said above, it was refreshing to hear somebody be so honest in their criticism of the Canadian performance, whether I agree with it or not.

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