With the World Cup of Hockey on the horizon I have heard the term ‘money grab’ thrown around a lot. While there are some aspects of the tournament that warrant criticism, I don’t understand the vitriol from many.
By locating the event only in Toronto and charging high ticket prices I get that there will be a pretty penny generated. However, when comparing it to the Olympics, most people conveniently turn a blind eye to the massive corruption that surrounds the IOC from candidate cities through doping and beyond. If you are looking for a ‘money grab’ then count the billions expended on and at the Olympics every 2 years.
In terms of the format, I like the 2 new teams of young North Americans and smaller European countries. The Olympic field, the World Juniors, and other tournaments get bogged down with terrible games and severe mismatches by trying to include the top 12 or 16 nations. This applies to hockey, soccer, etc. I want to see competition and excitement, not blowouts and embarrassment – which are not very sporting to me.
The purity of sport argument is just plain gone. It is anachronistic to suggest that any of these sports that allow professionals can be compared to bygone ideals of amateurs competing for their countries. Patriotism may be involved, but these NHL players are not getting to the Olympics based on it.
As for growing the sport, the Olympics may have a little more potential to do so, but that has seldom been realized. 1980 in the US is a great example, but wouldn’t that mean the 1998 Czech win would be giving us a bumper crop of Czechs right now? For the World Cup it would be nice to see some diversity of location within the format or at least with the next edition. Obviously Toronto has the most cash potential, but this could sell in other major markets as well.
Overall, I don’t value the Olympics over the Canada Cup / World Cup model at all. First and foremost as a hockey fan I want to see a high quality, competitive tournament. The last Olympics was not that, nor was the last World Cup, so I am hoping the September event will bring a new energy to international competition. If others want to complain about money or format then let them. I for one like the new ideas.