Monday, June 10, 2013

F1 spotlight puts the shine back on Montreal(and other Monday morning musings)

At a time when it's all too easy to get down on Montreal for becoming a corrupt and decaying monument to narrow-minded provincialism, it's gratifying to hear and see the praise still heaped the city by the Formula One entourage, even if they only see it through the prism of thousand dollar champagne bottles for three days out of the year. Perception is everything, and if the perception among the well-heeled and widely-travelled F1 glitterati is that Montreal is a desirable and worthwhile destination, then we're still relevant on the international stage, which brings us to this: the relative pittance that the various levels of government are being asked to contribute to extend the race contract beyond next year will do infinitely more to enhance the city than any number of rigged paving contracts, language inspectors or vote-buying federal grants with no tangible social or economic benefits...They live a charmed life, but no one knows better than Formula 1 drivers that life can be fleeting, and no one is more appreciative of the risks assumed by trackside workers who volunteer their time for the sport they love. Former world champions Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were among the drivers who went beyond lip service in expressing condolences on social media yesterday after a track worker suffered fatal injuries when he was run over by a crane. Said Alonso, "Today, there is nothing to celebrate"...Watching the French Open tennis finals, I couldn't help but wonder whether Fred Perry grunted like a rutting warthog or Helen Wills Moody shrieked like a howler monkey in heat when they were dominating the sport. Whatever tennis has gained in competition and athleticism in the modern era has been lost in dignity and decorum...Judging from the surge in Twitter props for oft-pilloried Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play announcer Bob Cole during Saturday's double overtime in Chicago, Don Cherry might only be the second most polarizing figure on sports television. Whether the subject is Cole or Cherry, how one viewer's inarticulate blowhard can be another's indispensable legend is a uniquely Canadian dichotomy rivalled only by the country's internal struggle over whether Justin Bieber is a source of national pride or embarrassment...And I think I've finally figured out the right comparable for Los Angeles Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig: he's Roberto Clemente in Bo Jackson's body.

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