Tag Archives: Newfoundland

Newfoundland is the Worst Place on Earth to be a Sports Fan

Though Newfoundlanders love their home, they do complain about it an awful lot; be it the weather, the lack of a Taco Bell, or all the moose that keep terrorizing drivers. If there is one thing that Newfoundlanders don’t complain enough about though, it is how terrible a place this is to be a fan of professional sports, at least for those of us who have to go to work in the morning.

I like sports. I particularly like sports in the playoffs, when every game is crucially important and the entire season is on the line. The problem is, the better the series, the worse a place Newfoundland, which is in a time zone an hour and a half later than EST, becomes to watch the game. The NHL semifinals have been fantastic so far, particularly the Western Conference, where pretty much every Blackhawks and the Ducks game has gone into overtime. I haven’t watched a full game yet.

If the games were blowouts, I could actually watch the game and get to bed by a reasonable hour. But because these teams are so evenly matched, there is better than even chance that the game well end up in overtime, and you never know if the game will end a couple minutes into the first overtime, as it did the other night, or go to triple overtime as it did a few games ago. There is nothing worse than investing several hours in a game and then having to go to be before it ended, only to find out the next morning that a highlight reel game winner. Though basketball does not have long overtimes, the last 3 minutes of close game can take a half hour to play, since NBA teams have 40 timeouts per half and teams save them until the end. Though I’m not much of a fan of the NBA, from time to time I’ll turn on a game in the fourth quarter with the intentions of watching the last few minutes of a close game, only to end up watching 30 free though attempts until 1am.

I once met a sports fan from Philadelphia who had worked all over the US and was living in Nashville at the time. I remember how he raved about how the Central time zone was the best place for a sports fan. On the west coast everything comes on too early, often times before people get home from work. On the east coast of the US things came on a little bit too late. He couldn’t believe it when I told him that I live in a place that’s an hour and a half ahead of EST.

I grew up a hockey fan, but in recent years with work and kids I’ve found myself increasingly watching football. The simple reason is that most games are shown on Sunday afternoons. I can actually watch the end of a game without having to wake up like a zombie at 6am the next morning. All of this makes the decision by the provincial government to experiment with double daylight savings time back in 1988 all the more unfathomable. Was Brian Peckford’s cabinet entirely devoid of hockey fans? If we could do something as absurd as turning our clocks ahead 2 hours, why can’t we try holding off on adjusting to daylight savings time until after the Stanley Cup Finals?

Hipster Population in St. John’s Growing Larger and More Partisan

A few days ago I was flipping through the May issue of The Overcast while having a coffee at Starbucks, and I came to an article about the traffic congestion that seems to plague every Tim Horton’s location in the St. John’s area. I have never understood why so many people would stop their vehicles in the middle of a busy street and risk causing an accident just for the opportunity to wait 15 minutes for an ordinary cup of coffee, so I was quite interested to hear the writer’s take on the issue. It turns out that that article said much more about the mindset of St. John’s hipsters than it did about coffee.

After reading the article, it appears that the hipster population in St. John’s has reached a critical mass, whereby they can now go through life interacting exclusively with other hipsters. Hipsters, by definition, dislike anything that the uncultured masses like, so logically they would always avoid something so mass market as Tim Horton’s coffee. Though they would not drink the stuff themselves, they would certainly be well aware that most people loved the stuff, as they would interact with non-hipsters on a daily basis. What was interesting about this Overcast article was not that the writer didn’t like Tim Horton’s, but rather that he or she didn’t realize how most people in this province would rather be late for their mother’s funeral than go without a large double-double.

The article in the Overcast used the results of a poll posted on their website as proof that most people don’t actually like Tim Horton’s coffee. I like the Overcast, but its readership is not exactly a broad cross section of society. Asking Overcast readers about Tim Horton’s coffee is akin to asking Ezra Levant’s blog readers what they think of the niqab. The article used several quotes, including one from a European who suggested that Tim Horton’s doesn’t even taste like coffee, and that it has an “industrial” taste. Using a quote from someone who is not from St. John’s is odd enough, but it is a particularly curious choice when you consider that instant coffee is ten times more popular in Europe than it is in Canada. Not to be outdone, the paper included a quote from their food writer who described Tim Horton’s as swill, undrinkable, and compared it to pouring hot water through dirty wool socks.

If hipsters actually interacted with living, breathing, non-hipsters, they would already know what I am about to tell them. There is no such thing as an “industrial” taste, unless perhaps if you were to literally add motor oil or diesel fuel to the coffee. Human taste buds are incapable of discerning whether a coffee bean was roasted in a small oven with a few pounds of coffee beans or in a large oven with several tonnes of beans. Furthermore, while I am not a diehard Tim Horton’s drinker, it undoubtedly tastes like coffee. It does not taste industrial (since such a taste does not exist). It does not taste like hot water poured through a dirty sock. It tastes as if someone picked coffee beans, roasted them, ground them up, and then poured hot water through them.

I wrote a few weeks ago about how politically partisan people in this province are becoming. It may be that this is simply a reflection of a broader trend that is seeing a growing number of people clustering into cliques of like-minded people. I can see how some might find it comforting to go through life surrounded by people who pat you on the back and agree with everything you say, but I personally would find it awfully boring. Surrounding yourself with people who are exactly like you is only a slight step up from being alone.

Why Are There So Many Snowmobile Fatalities in Newfoundland and Labrador?

It seems like every winter, about a half dozen people or so are killed on a snowmobile in Newfoundland and Labrador. Each tragic death gets covered in the news, but broader story of why this province has such a disproportionately high number of snowmobiling deaths is largely ignored. With the current season all but over, I count 5 snowmobiling deaths so far, which is sadly not at all out of the ordinary.

I should point out that most snowmobilers in the province are responsible and that many snowmobiling deaths are purely the result of bad luck. Nevertheless, the consistently high number of deaths year after year suggests that there may be some underlying problems that need to be confronted.

Drinking and driving has thankfully gone down dramatically over the past couple of decades. Police recently set up a road block in the St. John’s area and didn’t catch a single drunk driver. Unfortunately, people do not have the same enlightened view when it comes to drinking and operating a snow mobile. Many otherwise upstanding citizens who wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car after a couple pints at a bar think nothing of taking a dozen cans of beer with them for their day out snowmobiling. Drink six beers and drive home and people will look at you like you are some sort of menace society. Drink six beers while you are snowmobiling and you may be looked at as being the responsible one.

There are two reasons why someone who wouldn’t drink and drive but would think nothing of riding their snowmobile while impaired. One is that the chances of getting caught by the police is much higher in a car than a snowmobile. The most important reason though is the perception that it is only your own life that you are risking when riding a snowmobile drunk.  Though it is true you are more likely to kill someone else in a car, people can and do kill others on snowmobiles. Moreover, even if you don’t kill another person, you will certainly be inflicting pain and suffering on the spouses, children, and parents that get left behind. A cavalier attitude towards riding while impaired may not be the only problem; we may be just as cavalier when it comes to danger.

For much of our history, a sizeable portion of the population earned a living by risking their lives on small boats in some of the roughest seas on earth. Fishermen accepted these risks as a way of life and for the most part didn’t even bother to learn how to swim. Perhaps this acceptance of risk that has been ingrained in us over many generations may help explain why so many people continue to make a hobby out of risking their own lives.

It won’t be easy, but the attitudes of a sizeable minority of snowmobilers need to change. While neither the government nor police can stop people from riding recklessly and/or drunk, they can track and publicize how many people die in snowmobile accidents in the province and how it compares to the rest of Canada. The comparative data is difficult to find, but I did see one 15 year old report in which there were 8 fatalities in Newfoundland and Labrador one year, compared with only 1 in BC and 3 in Alberta, provinces with much greater populations. Ontario, a province with 20 times our population only had twice as many fatalities. The more people are confronted with this kind of information, the more likely they will be to do something about this problem.