It runs in the family

Friday, 28 May 2004 — 9:31am | Hockey, Music

I will begin by saying that the homegrown Albertan doctrine of “shoot, shovel and shut up” applies not just to mad cows, but also to hockey games like the one last night. No, really – let’s not talk about it. The penalties alone speak for just how poisonous the atmosphere was in the Ice Palace last night – 64 minutes dished out against Calgary and 60 against Tampa – but like I said, let’s not talk about it.

What this means, though, is that there will be at least one more return to Tampa for Game 5 – a bad thing in its own right, even when home-ice advantage is not taken into consideration. I refer not to the thirty-above hockey weather or the unsportsmanlike demeanour of what can be termed a hostile fan base, both factors that run quite contrary to what one can expect of watching hockey here in Calgary, but to a far greater menace to society as a whole. Her name is Brooke Hogan.

Ms. Hogan, a Tampa native who sings the national anthems at their home games with about as much vocal ability as her father Hulk, is – and I mean no disrespect to the Harts, who are good folks with whom I once crossed paths by way of piano lessons, of all things – irrefutable proof that professional wrestlers shouldn’t breed. I say this because the way she stomps all over “O Canada” like a wounded soldier limping across the Somme would be considered grounds for war by any country with an actual military. Here’s a lesson to all the aspiring American Idol contestants out there: singing a cappella does not give you a free pass to disregard the idea of tempo, which is about as fundamental to human civilization as the concept of the number zero. Don’t believe me? Take a wave mechanics course.

Leading an audience in an anthem (keyword: leading) comes with the implication that to some extent, members of said audience will be singing along. The fact that the American arena is primarily full of Americans is irrelevant, when ten percent of all Canada is watching the live telecast. When you lead an audience in song, you never, ever push and pull the tempo to your liking. It’s bad enough that she speeds through the first stanza as if it were the Indy 500, but to pull a ritardando in the next and an accelerando in the one after that – assuming she even has the capacity to understand that this is what she’s doing, which is a leap of faith – should get her at least a ten-minute misconduct.

The bottom line is, regardless of whether or not it is intentional, Hogan’s “performance” of the Canadian anthem is nothing short of cultural mockery. History has shown that such mockery has a very real demoralizing effect – one that Calgary overcame in Game 1 on merit, but you can only stomach something like this for so long. This is no different than the raucous booing and jeering of the visiting team that seems to be such an integral part of Tampa’s sporting culture. Come Game 5, someone get the girl a metronome, or get her off the ice.

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