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High Tide Hockey: The Never Ending Narrative




Narrative is something I’ve mentioned a few times in my previous columns; media narrative specifically. So what exactly is it? What does it means? How does it tie into hockey?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines narrative as “a spoken or written account of connected events; a story”. In short, narrative is how you tell the story. In sports, narrative is taking the results of games and connecting them in ways that are generally nonsense. Narrative is telling the story of a rousing speech that inspired the team to a comeback win; narrative is ignoring the speeches that that were given in a deflating loss.


Narrative is something you see much more often in traditional media, or with traditional media types. Newspapers, talk radio hosts (though based on his writing, I think Steinberg is pretty innocent of this), ESPN Sportscenter talking heads: these are all the most likely culprits of false media narratives.

Don’t mistake this as “human interest pieces are bad for sports”. I disagree completely. Those pieces exist because the players become larger than the sport itself to an extent for us. See my article on Daniel Ryder last year- that lends both a greater understanding to the psychology behind sports as well as the player himself.

No- I’m not arguing for nothing but stats articles or any nonsense. I’m arguing for a modicum of respect for the reader from mainstream media writers. This is “false narratives are bad for sports”. This argument is “being spoonfed nonsense is bad for understanding sports”. The number of times I’ve read that the Flames lost to the Sharks due to “lack of heart” or “not caring” is just ridiculous.

The fact is, the Flames lost because they’re not very good. They lost because their best players are older and slowing down. They lost because they lack the high end skill to keep up with the very best teams. They lost because, quite simply, they are not very good.

So mainstream media folks, the next time you argue that the Flames are playing better or worse because of music in the locker room, that David Moss is having a rebound year when in fact he’s always been great, or that “rewarding youth” is making the Heat play better (they’ve gotten worse), just ask yourself if any of these things would actually make you write any better. Because unfortunately, I doubt much will.

I quoted this in my High Tide Hockey about leadership and chemistry, but I’ll add it here as well; from Royals Review:


It’s all silly. It’s all a fantasy land of unprovables and reasoning that never gets verified. Sometimes leadership is being funny, being “loose”, keeping the guys relaxed. Two days later, it’s acting insane, starting a brawl, calling a players only meeting. Unrelated events happen, we create a false narrative, everyone forgets all of it anyway, and we move on. 162 games. Day after day. Nobody ever goes back and writes about the losing streak that wasn’t stopped by a fiery speech, the slump that didn’t end with a toxin-releasing brawl, the comeback that never came after the manager was ejected.

The game can never just be about the game, because we’ve all got to imbue an essentially meaningless activity, really no different at its core than an episode of Real Housewives or any other form of entertainment, with all manner of emotional, cultural, political, and psychological importance. For some reason we have to pretend that it actually would make sense for a baseball player to be “a warrior” or whatever else we want to call him. All that myth, which has seduced just about every supposedly literary account of sports, is hands down my least favorite aspect of being a fan.



  • Flames at Sharks. Wow. Bad. Awful.
  • Anyone know even remotely what the future of this franchise is? It scares me a little bit
  • My stuff leaves for Puerto Rico in 4 days. I leave for Puerto Rico in over a month.
I know I talk about Reinhart a lot…but!
Cody Eakin bumped him down the depth chart when he was acquired. Putting up the points Reinhart has while NOT playing with Eakin (the only other quality forward) in LESS minutes just makes him more impressive in my eyes. I think a bit of that is due to wishful thinking though.

by Arik Knapp