Tuesday, 7 January 2014


Bad Weather and Sports in Hi-Def

While there are still folk who wear tin foil hats and rabbit ears decrying television’s 21st century transformation into a digital medium, no sane viewer misses the lines and snow of the two interlocking analog fields. Television has never looked better.


When it comes to live sports in hi-def, especially live sports in bad weather in hi-def, the picture is nothing short of amazing. The NHL outdoor game on the first of this latest year is a case in point. Both teams sported ersatz throwback uniforms, each an almost solid primary colour. The tableau was something akin to an old table hockey game. But what stood out was the constant swirling snow. The precipitation was ready for its close-up, Mister DeMille. This was compelling television with neither sound nor CGI required. The images were so integral to the Winter Classic’s narrative they easily superseded the often inane and obvious commentary.


Silver needle rain fell throughout baseball’s playoffs and again Sunday during the Bengals – Chargers wild card tilt. Green Bay’s home game played out on the legendary and redundant ‘frozen tundra’ of Lambeau Field. The grass was brown, dead and probably was as soft as concrete. The players’ breaths whooshed like fighter jet contrails. The TV room felt chilly. Unscripted hi-def nature provides all the atmosphere and ambience of a Ridley Scott film.

Weather is no longer just another segment of a newscast, its behaviour and effects have become the news and a point of contention between the political left and right. The sun only shines every day in an execrable Trooper song. Snow and rain and freezing cold aren’t exactly exotic anomalies in Canada’s climate. Indeed every Canadian has experienced actual snow, rain and freezing cold first hand. And an increasing many something far worse with certainly more to come.

Pro sports are ultimately meaningless, but the tribes they create are entertained by it. There is no steaming primordial soup in the Canadian creation myth: we all emerged through a crack in the surface of a frozen pond. There is something compelling about watching elite athletes perform in less than ideal conditions. Nostalgia is a factor because as youths we played our games outdoors rain, snow or shine. We remember what that was like and it’s nice to be ensconced in heat and shelter while watching others suffer through it. But mainly, the hi-def picture’s perfect.

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