Monday Mumble: I Love You, AHL. Now Let Me Criticize You.

Photo courtesy of Steven Christy Photograhpy
Not much to complain about here. Curtis has great form. Photo courtesy of Steven Christy Photograhpy

There have been volumes of books written about what it means to properly criticize businesses and entertainment endeavors. In those books you’ll find a various amount of formulaic set of how-to’s that guide you along whether you’re a consummate professional writing for the NY Times or you wear boxer briefs in your door room and write about XBOX games. And for the most part the insights found in these writings are very unique, insightful, and often times eye opening. But in studying these things throughout the years (anthropology major right here), there is certainly a common thread that bonds all the various authors together.

Instead of giving you the common thread I’ll point you to the great Winston Churchill whom once said, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” And indeed Mr. Churchill understood criticism.

To the previous point, the reason that criticism is essential is two fold — Bringing attention and keeping attention. And cases could be made when one works without the other. Television, movies, books, music, sports all have had moments where something garnered some attention, but didn’t keep it. When the key is longevity in success healthy criticism is required. It keeps the endeavors honest. Grant Cardone is a highly successful business trainer and author. He once wrote, “The longevity of a project is determined by the quality of what you offer, the success of your project is determined by how much attention you can get for it.” And he’s right. Entities require attention. Lack of attention would equate to “stepping backward”.

And that brings me to my beloved American Hockey League. And really this applies to my love of hockey in general.

Sports franchises hate to be criticized. And truthfully, no one likes to be the receiver of any type of critical upheaval. It’s human nature (which means selfish) for us to assume we always know better. We always know what’s right. We never make mistakes. I’m the first to admit that this is something I greatly dislike. I just want to be the Zack Morris of the world — everyone loves me, I carry an over-sized 90’s phone, and sell water polo calendars. But we all can’t be that way. We all need an AC Slater to keep us on target.

In the past I’ve been critical of both the American Hockey League, it’s governing body, as well as my local Oklahoma City team. I’d say that this is because, generally speaking, I love this brand of minor league hockey. I just can’t help myself. I also know that it could and should be better. The way the league promotes the East and often time tolerates the West. The copycat play of an outdoor game. The refusal to do unique things. The protection of schedule. There are eons of things that can be pointed to as “problematic”. And I encourage, you the fan, to share your opinion. Do so in a manner that doesn’t promote the team for those that are paid to do it, but rather to spur them to be better at what they are already doing. Imagine if we lived in a world where no one commented or criticized anything. It would probably star Ricky Gervais and underuse Jennifer Garner.

So, in my second installment of the Monday Mumble, I lay some groundwork for what’s ahead. A healthy dose of criticism of the AHL, its teams, the Barons, and its players. I’ll not dissect personality. Those things are hard wired, and to do so would be in poor taste. I will however strive to be the nurse alongside the doctor asking for the scalpel, somewhat aiding in the betterment of overall health. Sometimes you might find me wildly off base. Other times you might find me quite entertaining. Either way, that’s fine. I fully expect there to be some critical discussion on this website. If I’m going to think and speak critically I’d want the readership to do the same.

So as you angle through the upcoming AHL season it’s okay to think and speak critically. When done appropriately it can actually be quite effective. Both in bringing and keeping attention; thus a better long-term product. Hope that your team hears your voice, understands your viewpoint, and digests the criticism. And be prepared for some blowback. But you’re smart, and indeed your criticism is important. Never forget that.