Apr 22, 2010

How Roger Doucet wrote the Soviet National Anthem

One of my fave blogs these days is Greatest Hockey Legends. Every day they post a great piece about some nugget of hockey history -- both on-ice and off-ice. Recently they posted this piece about Roger Doucet, the legendary anthem singer of the Montreal Canadiens.
In the summer of 1976 Doucet was asked to sing the national anthems at the new Canada Cup tournament. He was familiar with the American and of course Canadian anthems, but needed to learn the songs of the four European countries.

He contacted the Department of External Affairs and they easily got him the lyrics for Sweden, Finland and Czechoslovakia, but there was a problem with the Soviet Union anthem - there were no words!

It seems the original words in The Hymn Of The Soviet Union were quietly dropped after 1956 because of all the references to dictator Josef Stalin. Doucet was advised to "hum the anthem very loudly."

That didn't sit too well with the proud singer. Somehow he unearthed a copy of the Stalinist lyrics. Since he could not spead or read Russian, he handed it to the Russian department at the University of Montreal, and asked them to "fix them up."

Before the Soviet Union-Czechslovakia game at the Canada Cup, Doucet showed Soviet team officials the rewritten lyrics. They had no objections, and Doucet sang the all new Hymn of the Soviet Union. With the game being broadcasted back home, the Russian fans must have been shocked to hear the new anthem.

In 1977 the Soviet Parliament adopted the new lyrics.
Read the entire article...

All about the Atlanta Braves video scoreboard production

Here's an interesting first-person account published in Creative Cow. Matt Montemayor takes us "behind the scoreboard" with the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Some highlights:
I am the Production Manager of BravesVision, which provides in-house video production for the Atlanta Braves. My primary responsibility is to create content for and produce the `show' that fans see on the high definition video board at Turner Field in Atlanta.

Our work isn't broadcast; everything that we produce is displayed in-house only. But we have a game day crew of about 30 people, and run our show much like what you would see in a production truck or studio.

The centerpiece of our show is our high definition video board: a Mitsubishi Diamond Vision. It's huge. At roughly 80 feet wide by 72 feet tall, it's one of the biggest HD video boards in the world.

As they watch the game, fans are surrounded by video, graphics, animations, and statistics, instead of just seeing it on the screen.


Another big difference between our show and a broadcast show is that during game action, we don't actually show any action. Our video board is right above the batter's eye , in the area behind center field where there are no seats or anything else that might distract the batter when he's looking at the pitcher.

So when a batter steps up to the plate, we only have still images and stats on the board.

In between batters we show replays, crowd shots, live action, and elements to pump up the crowd.

After a big play we continue the momentum with crowd prompts to keep the fans fired up and shoot off fireworks after home runs. Arguably, one of the coolest parts of my job is pushing the little red fireworks button.


BravesVision consists of a small full-time staff but a much bigger game day staff. On the full time side there is myself, an audio designer, two engineers and an editor.

On the part time/freelance side we have all of the positions you would find in most broadcasts: director/ technical director, graphics op, font coordinator, replay op, two playback server ops, eight cameras (4 hard, 1 wireless, and 3 robotic), one A2, 3 audio assists, a video shader, and a utility player.

In addition, we have several positions unique to a stadium or arena production: a PA announcer, LED/ fascia board operator, matrix operator, a statistician, and a scorer.

Read the entire article...

Apr 21, 2010

All about Vancouver's green men

Puck Daddy published a good round-up earlier this week of articles and info about the Vancouver Canucks Green Men, "the body-suited super fans who mock opposing players as they stew in the penalty box at GM Place".

They also have their own page on the Vancouver Canucks website.

Marian Hossa plays the hockey organ in Chicago

Love this. Frank Pellico tries to teach Marian Hossa how to play the organ at the United Center in Chicago.

It's a tv ad for radio coverage of the Blackhawks.

(Source: Stimulant)

New York Times on hockey goal songs

The New York Times has an article about hockey goal song music in the NHL. (Clever title: "Songs to accompany air horn") Some highlights:
Some teams had their own goal songs. In 1976, the Hartford Whalers adopted a catchy theme, “Brass Bonanza,” which a team official found in a record library. “Brass Bonanza” was used as a goal song to add to the atmosphere — and wound up annoying opponents.

During the 1994-95 lockout, the Rangers, whom the team spokesman Brendan McIntyre said were looking for a unique song, and not one heard on the radio, turned it up a notch by commissioning “Slapshot,” or “The Rangers Goal Song,” a tune of conquest and triumph that remains the gold standard. (Unfortunately for the Rangers, who failed to qualify for the playoffs, “Slapshot” will not be played at Madison Square Garden again until next season.)

Some teams were more creative than others, and the songs tended to be hard rock. Three years ago, the Philadelphia Flyers had a local punk-rock group, the Boils, record several songs. One of them, “The Orange and the Black,” became the team’s victory song. It was played Sunday after the Flyers beat the Rangers to make the playoffs.

Anthony Gioia, the Flyers’ game-presentation director, said, “The intended effect was to expose our fans to a song in which they can identify with the team, recognize immediately and energize.”

The Caps, who used to punctuate goals with only a siren, had the same idea. Segal said that songs entered in the contest could not be about any particular player, including Ovechkin, or any particular season. The Capitals wanted to start a tradition.

The team and its fans, who voted on the station’s Web site, found what they were looking for in “Rock the Red,” written and performed by Sandbox Kings, an indie rock group from Arlington, Va. Capitals fans, many of whom wear red shirts to games at Verizon Center, participate by yelling “Hey!” and “Rock the Red.”


Last season, the Islanders tried six or seven other goal songs, none of which seemed to catch on, probably because the team hardly scored and had the worst record in the league.

Beach said: “People were resistant to change. The team was losing, and at the end of the day, it just didn’t jell.”

Late last season and early this season, the Islanders played an edited version of “Burn It to the Ground” by Nickelback. It was better, Beach said, but not a keeper.

So the Islanders began hunting for another goal song. Ten were narrowed to five in a poll of team executives, then to three that were put up for a vote on the team’s Web site. “Bro Hymn,” a hard rock song by Pennywise also used by the Anaheim Ducks, was selected. Islanders fans liked it.

“Sometimes, it’s not different taking the same approach to a hockey game as to being a D.J. at a wedding,” Beach said.


But some standards stick. When the St. Louis Blues score, the organist still belts out the time-tested “When the Blues Go Marching In,” to the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The Los Angeles Kings have played a cut of Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” since 1989.
Read the entire article...

Apr 16, 2010

Pre-game ceremony: Daniel Alfredsson's 1000th game

If I'm going to highlight a Pittsburgh pre-game ceremony, guess I'd better highlight a Sens ceremony too. Here's video from the pre-game ceremony to celebrate Alfredsson's 1000th game.

Worth watching too is the pre-game tribute video that kicked off the ceremony, and also this great collection of congrats messages from Alfie's Swedish teammates.

Last game at the Igloo

Great video showing the pre-game ceremony for the final regular season game at the Igloo. I liked how they brough the alumni out in groups - rather than bring them out one by one. It moved the ceremony along a bit faster, and it was a more creative way of highlighting different eras in Penguins history.

Apr 15, 2010

Redskins sell off their old scoreboard for charity

The Washington Redskins are selling off pieces of their old video scoreboard for charity. For five bucks, you get a piece of the scoreboard complete with a label confirming authenticity. Here's more from D.C. Sports Blog...

The Presidential First Pitch

Mental Floss has a good round-up about the history of the "Presidential Pitch". Here are some highlights:
Last Tuesday, President Barack Obama threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies. It wasn’t pretty. Obama’s pitch was high and outside, which juxtaposes nicely with the too-low toss that was the first presidential opening day pitch, made 100 years ago today.*

On April 14, 1910, President William Taft, an avid sports fan, went to see the Washington play their home opener against, coincidentally, Philadelphia (back then, however, the teams were the Senators and the Athletics). A few members of his administration came along, including military aide Archibald Butt. Just before the game started, umpire Billy Evans walked over to Taft’s seat on the first base line, unprompted, and handed him a new baseball. He asked the president to throw the ball from the stands to Senators pitcher Walter Johnson at home plate to officially start the American League season. Taft rose, turned and threw a right-handed pitch low and inside. Contemporary accounts say the throw had little grace or style, but Johnson caught it and the crowd went nuts. Washington beat Philadelphia 3-0 and Taft later autographed the ball for the team.

Taft threw out the first pitch of the 1911 season, too, but the budding tradition experienced some growing pains in the following years. Taft skipped the 1912 home opener when his close friend Butt went down with the Titanic —on the return trip from a vacation Taft had urged him to take. The United States occupation of Veracruz kept Woodrow Wilson from throwing the first pitch of 1914, and he missed four more home openers because of World War I (1917 and 1918), the Paris Peace Conference (1919) and a stroke (1920).

Even with the shaky start, the president’s ceremonial pitch became cemented as a part of baseball tradition. Read more...

Apr 4, 2010

Link round-up, April edition

Cleaning up some email ... here are some interesting links sent to me by a few of my Algonquin students:

  • ESPN/ True Hoop: About those dancers
    "In most of regular life these days, outside of Las Vegas, half-naked gyrating women are considered inappropriate. Paying young women to act out that brand of 14-year-old heterosexual male fantasy, and generally sexualizing things to that degree, is too stark a slap to the face of sexual equality to be tolerated. After all, one of the most important lessons of the last century was that women aren't subservient sex objects, right... But is there any denying that one of the major lessons one could take from watching an NBA dance team is that women are just precisely that?"
  • Officials tweaking Cowboys Stadium for smoother second year
    Changes include new stadium tours, an art tour, improvements to the actual scoring part of the scoreboard, and better wireless internet.
  • Carolina Hurricanes/RBC Center - change of plans for January 30th
    Good communication with fans to help mitigate traffic and safety problems due to bad weather
  • How You Doin'?
    Comcast-Spectator rolls out a successful customer service program to all of its facilities.

Apr 2, 2010

Bob McCown says one anthem is plenty

Here's an article for my Algonquin class -- specifically the group that's debating anthems this week. Here's a slightly different take on National Anthems from Bob McCown. He suggests one anthem is enough at pro sports events.

Still, the answer isn't to afford equal treatment to the anthem of another country. The answer is to get rid of it altogether. I mean, what is the basis for playing "O Canada" in the U.S. anyway? Well, the answer is because one of the 30 teams in MLB is in Canada. Is that enough? Uh, no!

Doesn't it make more sense to respect the nationalities of the players involved? Sure it does, but if you go down that road the playing of the anthems would have to commence before noon for a one o'clock start.

No, the correct response is gettting rid of anthem-playing all together.

Look, I've heard the song. It's catchy. But every tune gets old after a while. I mean, do you still like "Hey Jude" as much as you did the first 500 times you heard it?

When I go to a mid-season sporting event, the playing of the anthem is a mind-numbing experience. I don't stand there quietly pondering the great freedoms we enjoy or the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. I don't get teary-eyed or weak-kneed. And the only lump in my throat is likely to be the pizza I bit into just before the music started to play.

I confess there are moments when it is possible to feel real emotion when "O Canada" begins, but never at a sporting event.

I realize that eliminating the anthem altogether isn't going to happen, though that would be my preference. But surely we never need to hear more than one anthem at any one time…anywhere…under any circumstance!