Tuesday, March 11, 2014
An inspired choice
The usual suspects - which is to say people who resent anyone with a greater level of success and popularity than their own - are decrying Rogers Sportsnet's choice of George Stromboulopoulos as the new face of Hockey Night in Canada. "What ever happened to paying your dues?" rings the predictably indignant refrain. "Why should a VJ- turned-talk show host get the most coveted sportscasting gig in the country?"
Let's be clear: Stromboulopoulos is an accomplished broadcaster who has paid his dues. He's been on the air for more than 20 years, working his way from reporter at a Toronto all sports radio station all the way to his own show on CNN, before settling back into his longstanding gig as host of George Stromboulopoulos Tonight - a respected nightly talk show on CBC television, where Stromboulopoulos demonstrates an easy rapport with A-list celebrities from actors and rock stars to global geopolitical leaders. He is as polished and intelligent as any sportscaster in the country, more engaging than the lot of them, and has demographic appeal that transcends both age and gender. He's a passionate and knowledgeable hockey fan, and anything he doesn't know he can learn. It's hockey, not abstract algebra or statistical thermodynamics.
Rogers and Hockey Night in Canada already have more than enough sportscasters and ex-jock analysts kicking around to handle the journalism and insight. The selection of a hip, popular and proven host to bring a tired formula into the 21st century is a stroke of genius.
Lose the earrings, though, George. The occasion and circumstances demand at least that much conformity.