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A Dirge for Jay and Dan

Elliot Bridgewater (3L)

Why do we miss Jay and Dan, the beloved highlight tandem that left TSN for the $greener$ pastures of American network Fox Sports? After scouring my rapidly eroding memory banks and watching YouTube highlights of Jay and Dan doing highlights, I’m left with a somewhat elusive answer as to why Canadian sports broadcasting is so much worse off in their wake. You see, the answer is not that Jay and Dan are particularly good at their job, in fact, it’s the opposite: they’re kind of awful at it. So why do we love them?

They stumble through highlights, regularly missing the play. They don’t provide (or hype) any breaking ‘stories’, and they certainly don’t provide any compelling insights about players, or ‘the game’. They even have a segment devoted to ‘blowing it’. From what I can see, their entire approach to their jobs is mugging on camera, poking fun at the charade of being Talking Heads discussing kids’ games to an adult audience of millions. They literally make a mockery of professional sports broadcasting. And we can’t get enough.

We should dismiss them for butchering ‘the sports,’ the object of our irrational devotion and vicarious glory. So why do we love them? Maybe it’s just another layer of hero worship. After all it’s hard for most of us to put ourselves in the shoes of the contemporary commentator of robotic expressiveness and supermodel looks. Not so for the towering creepiness of Jay and the stubby (if immaculately coiffed) awkwardness of Toolsy.

While most of us are slowly succumbing to the crushing consciousness that we will not play in the NHL (SPEAK FOR YOURSELVES!), we still sound like we know what we’re talking about. Imagine getting paid to do that! It could be us in front of the camera living the dream of bullshitting about sports bullshit. So maybe, watching Jay and Dan is just another layer of vicarious glory to pile on top of the overall wish fulfillment of pro sports.

Seriously though, the shtick of a couple affable hacks laughing about how much they suck at their job would get old after a few shows. Thus, there must be a better explanation. My personal theory for Jay and Dan’s staying power is their irreverence for the seriously glossy, and controlled image of pro sports. In spite of all the story lines that get pumped, and stats that get tossed around, the beauty of sport is that there is always the potential for spontaneity in motion.

Jay and Dan approach talking about sports the same way that sports should be played. They embrace the spontaneity, and comedy of the spectacle, instead of the seriousness of the industry. They’re bold (or dumb) enough to not even follow their own script! And every once and a while they say something truly irreverent that lets us laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. That, my friends, is truly hopeful, even for a jaded Oilers fan.