It was a big week for The People's Voice, with plenty of discussion on Marion Jones and anti-doping issues. But first a little more lighthearted feedback concerning small Canadian towns that churn out NHL players.
With it comes our first reader contest, "The People's Voice Ridiculous Town Name Contest," which you don't even have to be a hockey fan to enter. Details below (second letter down).
As always thanks for the email, and my responses are in italics.
Now on to The People's Voice. …
CANADIAN HOCKEY TOWNS ("Fired up in Moose Factory" May 14, 2004)
Just read your article on Moose Factory. I am working the night shift in the hospital here and thought I'd write you to say good job. People here are proud of their boy (Jonathan Cheechoo) and take their hockey seriously, although most are Leaf fans!
Moose Factory, Ontario
While making fun of Canadian place names, you missed a pair in Newfoundland, being the not-so-distant towns of Dildo and ComeByChance. Of course, rumour has it there are actual places called "Walla Walla, Washington" and "Kalamazoo, Michigan," too. I even heard you have TWO places called "Kansas City" down there – and one is in Missouri!
Given that part of Ontario IS south of Detroit, is "Northern Ontario" really much more redundant than "South Carolina"?
By the way, if you ever get to Southern Alberta, be sure to visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump!
I know, I know – it was a cheap joke. I actually know all about Southern and Northern Ontario but (hopefully) it was funny to the vast majority of people in the U.S. who don't. Most readers of this column realized it was all in good fun, but a few thought I really was picking on Canada. Hey, if you can't laugh about Moose Factory then you need to start drinking more.
Anyway, this Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta, is a real place. I looked it up on Yahoo!
Here's the origin of the name: "In southwest Alberta vast quantities of buffalo skeletons can still be found, evidence of a custom practiced by aboriginal peoples of the North American plains for nearly 6,000 years. Using their excellent knowledge of the topography and of buffalo behavior, they killed their prey by chasing them over a precipice; the carcasses were later carved up in the camp below."
Unbelievable. They got buffalo to jump off a cliff and get their heads smashed in. Hence, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.
Until otherwise proven wrong this is the greatest name of a town I have ever heard. But I could be wrong (I am not 100 percent certain this is a real "town," but I'll find out and report back).
But I am inspired, regardless. I hereby commission "The People's Voice Ridiculous Town Name Contest."
Winner will get worldwide acclaim in this space.
Here are the rules. Send in no more than TWO recommendations that you believe are worthy of consideration. I don't want lists of hundreds of names. If you send in more than TWO, you forfeit your eligibility.
It can be anywhere in the world. But it has to be an incorporated town or city whose existence can be proven through a simple Yahoo! search. In case of multiple submissions of the same place, the first entry I receive wins. Bonus points to anyone who has an explanation for the town's name and if you actually reside there.
"The People's Voice Ridiculous Town Name Contest" will last two weeks. Be advised that as of this moment, Bob Bishop of Toronto is the leader in the clubhouse. And I am the sole and final judge.
We will post the best entries in the next two People's Voices. This could be bigger than "American Idol."
Good article. FYI I think Osoyoos means "narrows" or "where the lake is the most likely to be crossed" or something similar. The weird thing is that Osoyoos is in the middle of a desert. Not to mention about 75 percent of the population are retirees. Having an NHLer from Osoyoos is quite improbable.
Loved your story on Moose Factory. I went there as a youngster and loved the boat ride to the island. (Think: NY cab drivers on water, dodging sandbars). Even before you take the boat or helicopter, you have to take a four-hour train ride north on the "Polar Bear Express" to Moosonee. Then you can catch the boats.
I'll be cheering for the Cup to take the train and boat ride to this quite northern town. (No SJ bias here.)
San Jose, Calif.
Although I might be considered the last guy to find myself in the middle of such hoopla, being a native of suburban Southern California, I've seen the Stanley Cup on display in a very small Canadian community.
After the 1999 finals, I was with my girlfriend visiting her family on Prince Edward Island when Grant Marshall brought the Cup to his wife's hometown of North Rustico, population 637. And even though I've seen the Cup up close at the Hockey Hall of Fame, this was definitely much, much better, there in the community park behind the Fisherman's Wharf Lobster Suppers restaurant.
I'm going back to PEI again this summer, and you'd better believe that I'm rooting for Brad Richards to bring the Cup home!
Thanks for the insightful comments about hockey and its importance to Canadians. Your article about Moose Factory and travels of the Cup gives a fresh perspective on the game for Canadians and Americans alike. The game is part of our blood here, whether one likes it or not.
Not many outside Canada would understand what it means for "Hockey Night in Canada" to not air on a Saturday night, because ESPN and ABC get first dibs on the television rights. Here it's a national slap in the face, as Bettman and the other NHL suits wait for the juicy television contract that is never going to come.
P.S. Are you aware that CBC is rumored to be dumping Don Cherry next year? Canadians are already talking about that one from here to Sunday and nothing has even officially happened yet. The Death of "Coach's Corner" – I'll miss it.
I get a lot of emails complaining about ABC ruining hockey tradition (i.e. "Hockey Night In Canada," the Saturday night broadcast of games). I don't blame people for being frustrated. This would be like moving the NFL off Sunday afternoon. But ABC paid the most money. Let's see what happens with NBC.
For Americans who have never seen former Bruins coach Don Cherry do "Coach's Corner," think Charles Barkley but without the political correctness. Put Archie Bunker in a $4,000, powder blue double-breasted suit (Cherry and Deion Sanders share a closet) and let him rip, and that is basically the show. His constant blasting of European players, protective shields and various geopolitical issues that have nothing to do with hockey make it the most mesmerizing, hysterical, outrageous television analysis segment in sports.
Maybe the best part is watching the facial expressions of his co-host Ron MacLean, who plays the straight guy. At least once a night he is left wondering when the network is going to pull them off the air.
So I agree. The death of "Coach's Corner" would be devastating.
Your article "Say no to drugs" was WAY on the mark. I hope every major paper in the country prints that one. America (from my view) has turned far too greedy in so many things, including the sports, amateur or pro, and it disgusts me. You and I are on the same page when it comes to the drug view or the Iraq thing or some real American pride.
Why would any athlete, or any citizen for that matter, comment one way or another in the public form when their livelihood is at stake? … Marion should keep her mouth shut and you and yours should believe she is innocent until proven guilty.
Silver Spring, Md.
If Marion Jones were merely a professional athlete, then I would agree with you. But because she wants to represent the United States of America she should be held to a higher standard. Just as she has the right to say nothing, others have the right to believe that her silence is telling us something.
Any time a person, like Jones, refuses to answer questions straightforward and truthfully, it opens the door to suspicion. Personally I believe she has something to hide.
Lake Forest, Ill.
I read your article of 18/5/2004. Why shouldn't the American athletes be clean always and only just this time? You remind me of a gang of crooks: "Shhh, the police are near, keep a low profile, keep your heads down and when they leave we are out again."
Giving such instructions isn't so ethical, is it? It means that the use of drugs is on a high circulation so far and that is going to be again after the Olympics.
I think that its pretty sad today that everyone is looking at Marion Jones and assuming that since she is in unbelievable shape and one of the best ever at what she does that automatically she cheated to get there. Not even once in your article did you state that she has never tested positive for steroids, but multiple times you remind us that Hunter did – a guy who she is no longer with, but for whom she had the character to stand behind, knowing what it would do to her reputation.
Why does it matter what her relationship is with BALCO? Are steroids the only product they have that she could have been interested in? I doubt it.
Personally, I think she has every right to pick a line over which she will not go … until she falls like you want her to and tests positive.
I did quote Jones' assertion that she is and always has been clean. The reason she is under suspicion is not because she has had great success, but that her associations with BALCO are too great to ignore – especially since the designer steroids the lab produced have previously been impossible to detect.
Your article rings so very true in my ears. America needs to keep its nose clean for this and every Olympic Games. I was a former NCAA Division I sprinter. I never made the Olympics, but I would have to say that that only occurred due to my integrity and honor for which I still hold proudly today.
Drugs and steroids were all around me. It was hush-hush, but it was much too tempting for some to say no. When you train for hours a day, push your body to the limits of human existence and beyond sometimes, you do it for the glory of competing in the ultimate goal of the Olympic Games. Winning is the only thing on your mind, at least mine, and some will win at all costs. In sprinting, fractions of seconds make the difference between the gold, silver and bronze. Some can push their bodies to the limit naturally and still accomplish great times, but performance-enhancing drugs help you blow right past those natural athletes.
Masking agents are very sophisticated these days so literally any athlete could get away with it. But in the end you still have to live with yourself and what you have done. If you have the records, the medals and the fame but no integrity, no morals, no other thoughts but to cheat and win at all costs you have really lost.
This is my plea to the athletes of the United States of America: Play these Games with truth and honor so our country can cheer you on and not have to question your accomplishments.
David T. Smith
You fail to remember that the same Constitution that gives you the right to freedom of the press also gives you the right to not incriminate yourself. Marion does not have to say a thing. She has not tested positive to any drug test. Conte is trying to plea-bargain to save his own skin.
Marion, keep quiet. Continue not to react to allegations that have no evidence. I seem to remember that you are innocent until proven guilty.
Jones certainly is a poster child for American track and field: deny, deny, sue. She acts like representing her country is an inalienable right. A smaller group of people make a much more subjective decision about who gets to go play for the Olympic hockey team. Her livelihood, which she was referring to, is based on public endorsements, and she can't afford to lose any more public respect for herself or her sport of track and field.
You are forbidden to write for Yahoo! Sports in the future. You are suspected of having spoken to unsavory characters in gathering information for your admittedly excellent column. We suspect you may have encountered people who have committed illegal acts and you are therefore guilty by association. Sorry, you're fired.
Give me a break. When the USADA has a positive test on Ms. Jones, then they should ban her. Until then they should do their job – this is the USA, not Iraq.
Excellent letter. But I never said Jones or anyone else should be banned from anything. I just said I wish right now I could feel better about her representing our country.