Rick Reilly has been a lounge act for so long, even critiquing him is lame.
Anywho — just trying to play the role— it is good sportsmanship to pass on the ESPN columnist's knee-slappers about Canada. The old media column trope about riffing on minor cultural differences — omigod, Canadians call soda "pop!" — is hacky, but this is failblog.org worthy:
"Speak Canadian. ATMs are ABMs. Street hockey is 'shinny.' Butt is 'arse.' Beer is "brew." Stuff is "whatnot." Newfoundlanders are "Newfies." Never say the 'g' in 'ing.' And yay is not a cheer, it's a measurement, as in: 'I'm lookin' for my malamute, about yay big and yay long?' "
And it just goes on like this.
"When referring to Elvis, be sure its (sic) Stojko not Presley. If you're talking about acting, don't forget the god of all Canadian thespians — Lorne Greene from "Bonanza." If your birthday is August 9, always look at the ground, shake your head and add, 'The day Wayne was traded.' "
Lorne Greene? Was Reilly writing off a checklist of mandatory Canada references created in 1965? You know he'll be kept up nights wondering how he didn't get in a dig about William Shatner.
Perhaps — and this might be a hopeful projection — it was a satirical argument for a total moratorium on the stale jokes sportswriters break out every Winter Olympics. Knowing the infield-fly rule does not make one into Russell Peters. People could get with that principle. That list would include a ban on that one (and only) biathlon joke — Skiing and shooting?! Who are the ad wizards who came up with this!
Ours is not to ask why mainstream media sportswriters substitute stereotypes for original observation. At least Larry Dobrow of CBSSports to was willing to self-skewer, when he described the Games as consisting of, "Lots of sports usually relegated to tree-sheltered hills in parts of the world where residents speak, like, Nordic." He's at least admitting his lack of worldliness.
Chalk this up as an epic fail. Reilly makes some shallow, fairly accurate observations. O Canada is a better national anthem than The Star-Spangled Banner, although it says here that America The Beautiful puts 'em both to shame.
For U.S. readers, Canadians don't refer to street hockey as "shinny." Pond hockey is shinny. Street hockey is sometimes referred to as "road apple," which dates back to the days when frozen horse excrement was used for a puck. Someone tell Reilly so can develop that concept into a TV series.
And we call bank machines ATMs. ABMs must be more of a Utica expression. At least Reilly, Inc., got it right that Canadians are nice, especially when we're silently judging a hack sportswriter.