Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Media Theatre - Fun With Scrum

The media "scrum" thing Skate Canada loves has never made sense.

High Performance Camp is not a "True Crime" scenario from an old movie. Or Lindsay Lohan emerging from traffic court and hustled to a waiting car with its engine running.

At High Performance Camp, the media is not jostling for position outside the rink entrance, elbows flying, waiting for the skaters to emerge from practice so reporters can compete to be the first to accost Scott and Tessa or Duhamel/Radford or Patrick Chan to ask if they get star struck skating on the same rink as Michelle Kwan and Scott Hamilton (that's about where most media types still are with their figure skating).

If Debbi and Barb are on the job they've done a little media briefing before siccing the "media" into the "scrum" with the actual skaters.

Okay - maybe somebody will ask Tessa how her "some kind of shin thing"  is coming along. That's a fresh story right there.

Everybody's been invited, credentialed. Civilized.

They're inside Skate Canada's venue, on Skate Canada's own media day. No need to fake-crowd skaters and stick recording devices en masse into skaters' faces while hollering into cell phones to file the story as it's happening.

They're actually not doing that last part.There is no story. Just a pedestrian Q&A for which the skaters are well-prepped.

Of course, how "en masse" it really is we don't know. If the camera recording the "scrum" pulled back, how crowded would the scrum be? Is it more a lunch club situation, size-wise?

Why does Skate Canada set up fake scrums?

It looks very cool on Skatebuzz?

We've got a schedule, we've got an entire freaking day called "media day". We've got polite figure skaters talking figure skating. Folding chairs. Card tables. The team bike-building, paper plate/plastic cup relay and competitive logo drawing will wait.

Where's the fire?

If you have a civilized mixed zone at the Olympics, skaters moving down the line for one-on-ones, I think you can knock off the scrum at a Mississauga figure skating rink in early September.

This is stupid. Let Patrick sit down at a nice folding table with his own microphone.

Incidentally the useless "Backstage Pass" video clip from which the above screen cap was taken -was that supposed to be our peek at HPC? Silent scraps of mundane video strung together with cheap music? Are we supposed to be impressed with the glimpses of insider skating life - the exterior of the Hershey Center, a couple of athletes stretching, two brief fade-in/fade-out looks at stars mid-scrum? What's in it for us, Skate Canada. We can't hear a thing anybody says, it's not like Patrick Chan and VM's faces are unfamiliar, so what is supposed to be worth our time? This is obnoxious.

Look at them. They're practically beseiged. Poor Scott is about to worry his cross chain - he's really sweating out the questions on the non-touching circular step sequence in the short dance. Step back. You'll all get a chance. Let the skaters breathe!

This is a ridiculous photo.
It's a scrum, but somehow none of the reporters are blocking the front of Tessa and Scott. Nope, they're on either side, all sticking out their hands, but Tessa and Scott are totally clear for the very cool photo. This is our skating media - they go along with this stagey shit. And kudos to the performances from everyone concerned. By their facial expressions alone, I think there are very few grade school productions that could do better.

LOVING the TWO Skate Canada logo screens so no matter what camera angle, there they are, right behind the skaters' faces.

By all means, keep "branding" Skate Canada. Make that the star not the figure skaters. That will work for sure. Attach the brand, too, to all kinds of dumb ass amateur hour "initiatives", b.s. and schemes.

After all, there are all those other skating federations in Canada you're up against.

Dear God these people are asses.

They're hanging on Scott and Tessa's every word.

You can cut the intensity with a knife.

This I don't get. I believe this is from Skate Canada International last year.

We have a very nice table. Chairs. Also, microphones.


 Were I a reporter assigned to Skate Canada, I'd bill Barb and Debbi for my chiropractor.

Look behind them.

Hmm- something seems familiar about the headless person behind Tessa.
Judging from the first photo behind the unused table, Scott and Tessa are promoting their book, assisted by Skate Canada volunteers and the headless one standing behind Tessa in the last photo. This book Skate Canada is helping to promote contains (at least) two significant, pivotal lies. Of which Skate Canada is not only aware, but helped manufacture and foist upon the public.

And a book promotion is such a natural "scrum" format.


  1. Ah, I remember SC tweeting that last photo and thinking, what on earth? Tessa and Scott are seated in chairs, IN FRONT of the table they were seated behind when they took the photo with their book. A table where microphones sit unused. That room or area was meant to be used for press conferences, and here are SC's star attractions, sitting there while reporters practically have to crawl over each other to get their recorders close to Tessa and Scott's faces. What, did all of the microphones break at once?

    Then I saw the photos from this year's HPC "scrum," and thought, ah, got it. Apparently, SC wants to make it seem like the skaters have reporters besieging them for quotes like they just pitched a World Series game winner. They're so popular, these skaters! Reporters are practically bowling over another to get to SC's star skaters! Err, no.

    That photo of Tessa and Scott seated in front of the empty table with microphones directly behind them just cracks me up.

  2. Can I just say thank you to Oy Canada and all the commenters on here because I have learned so much through all this, about how media and marketing and etc are supposed to work when it comes to sports. I've seen almost all of these photos/videos before and yet never noticed this stuff. Maybe that speaks poorly of me lol but it helps to know what to look for.

  3. Lol you're right! It's as if they loved the way the "scrum" looked on TV during some big event, like the Oscars, and ever since then they're trying to recreate that for the SC skaters.

    At every HPC, it's also very amusing to see all the skaters in the SC uniform of choice for that particular year for the official group pictures (which we can't see because they're too tiny) and the "scrum" interviews. There's something robotic about it.

  4. I would put the market share this media gets somewhere south of the Oliver's Jewelry Commercials. All that effort to place on 940 TV screens at 3:00am, to a most likely, not very sober audience.

  5. But hey, Debbi Wilkes and Co. probably feel so cool to put on a "scrum" and pretend their skaters are rock stars. And they can also pretend they were very original, creative, successful in their marketing of the skaters and SC.


  6. This is so laughably pathetic, it's almost not worth my time to post. But I am :)

    Anyway, I have been in a few scrums in my day, but only during a crisis when I was updating the media on the current situation. I will tell you, it isn't an easy situation to be in. Its stressful. Don't these morons understand that having your skaters in a scrum makes it seem like something has gone wrong?

    Hosting a well orchestrated press conference allows the skater to be in control and offers them a safe environment. Putting skaters in a high pressure scrum situation is irresponsible.

    Now, any reporter attending a skating camp must be thinking:

    1. What a crappy assignment this is.
    2. Why the heck are we scrumming these skaters?
    3. Is this over yet?

  7. "(it may be true that when the truth comes out the media can spin it into not a big deal....but how are they going to deal with these lies being in print like that? book burnings?)"

    I have had questions about the book as well. Ok, so they create an alternate public persona, complete with fake gf, that is thrown out there to fans via facebook and given brief mentions in some interviews. But when it came to a Book (!!) they made the decision to continue the lies?

    What I would like to know is who is advising them to stay this course? Why was it allowed to make it into the book at all? Did all these people forget that a book means sales - PROFITING from their story? It would have been easy to still have a very interesting book while sticking strictly to the skating. As it was, there were many things left out that I had expected to see addressed. For instance, there wasn't much about the day-to-day training, about the costume selections for various programs (this was right after the Olympics and not a word about why Tessa had all the different dresses for Mahler and how they decided to use the one they did for the Olympic program), details about the music-selection process (not just Mahler), anything at all about the exhibitions (and those costumes as well). I could go on. Instead, there's quite a bit in the book (again, like in many post-Olympic interviews) about being BFF but not really. About pressure to be seen together, but, "we're always together", about having separate off-ice lives, but not really. About a personal rift - but there's evidence that they were in fact on good terms during that time (in that case,why the hell mention this at all?)

    Does the media also give them a pass for publishing, and profiting, from a book that contains blatant and intentional lies? Does the publishing company, or the co-author, issue an apology? Where does SC come in on all of this?

  8. I want to point out that the media itself is clearly being used as a prop here. They're arranged to get a photo. Now I want to ask if any of these people mentioned this in their articles. Did anyone mention they attended media day at HPC and Barb MacDonald put them in a scrum, and WTF? Or more than a scrum, Barb MacDonald had them in a pseudo scrum, blatantly posed on either side of Scott and Tessa but keeping the center of the frame clear for promotional stills?

    No? They didnt? But I though media weren't stooges. I thought it was impossible to keep stuff secret.

    They're a publicity arm of the skating fed. That's why they're there. They don't "report" anything. They're parrots. If they want to get invited next year, they stay that way.