Monday, March 21, 2005

SAD TIMES FOR CANADIAN SPORTSCASTERS

Well it continues to be terrible times for sportscasters north of the 49th. While American sports broadcasters are calling NCAA basketball games and getting set for the baseball season, Canadian sportscasters are unemployed, underemployed, in very poor health, or in one case, preparing a court case.

The guy preparing a court case is Chris Cuthbert, now planning to take the CBC to court over their decision to fire him. They couldn't come to an agreement over a severance package. I don't think he ever thought the NHL labour dispute was going to cost him his job or put him in a situation where he was going to have to sue the CBC. If someone had gone up to Cuthbert and told him he would be spending the year fighting a legal battle against the CBC I don't think he would have believed it. He would have said you were nuts.

The guy in very poor health is, sadly, Tom Cheek, the Blue Jays' announcer on radio, who continues his brave fight against cancer. He has what is described as an "inoperable" brain tumour. Cheek is scheduled to undergo more brain surgery this week. I doubt he'll be able to do Opening Day. Last season he had to undergo surgery and was out for several weeks. This year Cheek will not be doing any road games on the radio at all because of his health problems. This is a really serious, terrible situation for Cheek, for the team and for the fans, but hopefully the surgery will be successful. We all want him to get well and return to the air but this is a really bad situation to be in, having to go have surgery again.

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Baseball season begins within a couple of weeks and no doubt fans will be happy to see the return of a familiar sport after a year of no NHL. But this has been a terrible year. We have no NHL and no Montreal Expos to look forward to, and now no Tom Cheek on the radio again. And today Wayne Gretzky bowed out of the world championships to spend time with his family because his mother Phyllis Gretzky has lung cancer. These are sad times, people.

Don't tell me that it will improve in April when the TV networks cover the IIHF world championships or the Memorial Cup, or that outdoor game in Hamilton, or that WHA cup tournament they plan on having. Hockey is still a complete joke, the Raptors are out of the playoffs, Jacques Villeneuve is a bum, and the Blue Jays are in the same division as the Red Sox and the Yankees so they are beaten before they even begin. The sports situation in Canada right now is sad, sad, sad.

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