Don Cherry is a legendary hockey commentator for CBC television in Canada. As we all know, Canadians take their hockey very seriously and as such, Cherry seems to take great umbrage to the amount of criticism that has been levied against the sport given the amount of cheap shots and fighting that has taken over the NHL playoffs this year. In 2011, the NHL playoffs concluded with 12 fights total. We're not even through the first round of playoffs in 2012 and they've already tallied 11 scuffles.
Cherry doesn't want to hear your whining about how this goon-style violence is a disgrace to the sport of hockey. He isn't having any of it, and he took to the air on Monday night to effectively say the sport has always been this violent, it's the way the game is supposed to be played, and if people have a problem with it they should go take up a wimpy sport. And when it came time to identify that wimpy sport, Cherry dropped his gloves and went for tennis' collar.
"Quit whining that this stuff hasn't been goin' on and it's not hockey," Cherry said during his "Coaches Corner" broadcast on CBC (at about the 6:25 mark in the above video). "It's hockey the way it's played. If you don't like it, take up tennis. I can see these guys playing tennis, these reporters, playing tennis, 'Oh, sweet-love', in their little white shorts." Based on his sarcastic tone, I don't think Cherry was speaking admirably of Victoria Azarenka's Slam-winning fashion.
Of course, you never know who's listening these days, and in Cherry's case, ESPN tennis commentator -- and reliable defender of tennis -- Brad Gilbert was listening. As those of us in tennis know, BG isn't one to back down from anyone and he took to Twitter to offer a response.
You'd think that after all these years -- years that have seen champions born out of Compton, raised in oppressive government-run sporting regimes, or forged in the midst of NATO bombing -- people would move past this tired and lazy stereotype of tennis as a puff-ball country club sport. I mean, I would never say the NHL is full of toothless goons who exude machismo despite being covered head to toe in protective armor, and who make up for any deficiencies in their intelligence with their propensity to start punching things. Because that would be perpetuating stereotypes that aren't true, reductive to the game of hockey and, quite frankly, tired and lazy journalism. What's the point of that?