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What to make of Reilly’s Hatred of Canada

February 16, 2010

Over the past few days, there has been a sort of mini-explosion across the internet concerning Rick Reilly’s pair of Canada-bashing columns. The first one, which I detailed here seemed relatively harmless. Really dumb, but kind of harmless. It was basically a list of Canadian cliches, which, naturally, quite a few Canadians took offense to. Understandable.

Watch out, Reilly. Canada has grizzlies, as you have so astutely pointed out.


I received a few e-mails that some angry Canadians sent to Reilly, and apparently he read a few of them as well, because on Monday he came out with a column, discussed here where he took things to another level. He bashed Canadian hockey and the Vancouver Opening Ceremonies, made fun of Canadian bacon (original, I know), and taunted Canada for not winning medals. He was clearly angry at Canadians for getting mad at him. He topped it all off by telling a story about how a pool boy at some Vancouver hotel walked in on his wife while she was in the locker room shower. It was strange. Reilly was supposed to be guarding the door. And now, he thinks everything’s square. For some reason.

There was more outcry after that (also understandable). Candian colunist Bruce Arthur set off a mini firestorm by tweeting: “Rick Reilly wrote a follow-up Canada column. It’s almost impossible to believe that this overpaid millionaire hack was once great.” This got picked up by a few large websites, and off we went. I had a bit of a back and forth with Arthur on twitter and he praised Reilly’s earlier work (a point on which I agree), and said he didn’t mean to start anything. Anyway, he was a real nice guy, and he’s a very good journalist. Check him out.

OK. So now that we’ve recapped, and know where we are (tours are scheduled twice daily…get here early if you wanna ride the top deck), I’d like to briefly hypothesize about where in the hell this came from. That is: why does Reilly hate Canada? I think there are  two things at play here:

1.) Reilly’s overarching problem–the cause of his shitty columns these days, as opposed to when he wrote really good stuff–is that he’s lazy. Perhaps that happens when you start getting handed millions of dollars. I wouldn’t know. Anyway, I think this originally started as Reilly, once again, looking for an easy column, and it bit him in the ass, because this time it wasn’t some meaningless drivel about Cha Cha or Closed Captioning, it was kind of insulting to an entire country. So one part laziness plus one part nation-needling is Reilly’s recipe for disaster.

2.) I think (and this is complete conjecture here) that Reilly has a bit of a chip on his shoulder over Canada, stemming from two things. First, a sports journalist from Vancouver plagaraized Reilly a few years ago. You can read about it here. I won’t get into the lunacy that is plagarizing Reilly, and Rick shouldn’t be too upset considering he plagarizes himself on a regular basis…c’est la vie. So maybe he’s still pissed about that, which wouldn’t make much sense since the guy got fired, but it still could have something to do with it.

Second, and this is probably the biggest thing, he was very angry a few years ago when Vancouver Canucks fans booed the Star Spangled banner twice in a playoff series with the Avalanche. Here’s his column about that. That’s a semi-legitimate reason to be mad, but to let it stew around for 9 years? I dunno. Certainly it was poor form for the Canucks fans to boo, but they were probably drunk, as well as high on playoff hockey. Anyway, does this warrant bashing Canada in two successive columns? Probably not. Does it give some insight into why Lazy Old Rick felt compelled to do it in the first place? Perhaps. It would make a goofy situation make a bit more sense at least.

Well, that’s that. Maybe it will all just die. I hope so. But we’ll see if Reilly comes back for thirds. He just might do it.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. VermontIce permalink
    February 17, 2010 11:31 am

    Great synopsis and theorizing. I’ve been following the Reilly vs. Entire Nation of Canada battle and honestly, I’m shocked at Reilly’s behavior. There is just no way to spin that second column as anything other than an attack. You have to wonder what Reilly’s beleaguered editors were thinking when they were forced to pass this steaming pile on to production.

    End of the day, it’s one thing to be insulting and funny. It means you’ve gone to trouble to bring creative insight to the battle, and even the targets of such insight can appreciate it. But this stuff was insulting and unfunny, and was clearly little more than a cheap-minded attack.

    Does SI have an ombudsman? I’d say these back to back attack columns bear scrutiny.

    • Tapps permalink*
      February 17, 2010 11:38 am

      Thanks for reading. Yeah, man…the whole thing is just ridiculous. You’d want the ESPN Ombudsman ( Don Ohlmeyer. I feel like Reilly got a lot of angry e-mails, so maybe he’ll address it in his next article.

      • VermontIce permalink
        February 17, 2010 12:11 pm

        Actually fired off a quick email to Ohlmeyer. Not expecting much, but really, those two columns are exactly the kind of thing that Ombudsmen are employed to assess. Reilly was out of control and it’s clear no one in the editorial pipeline is able or willing to put the brakes on him.

  2. Drew permalink
    April 10, 2010 2:50 pm

    Here’s a link to the Reilly article that made me opt not to renew my subscription to Sports Illustrated. Apparently the Canadian bacon comment was just as funny a decade ago.

  3. TheDowJones permalink
    June 26, 2012 8:58 pm

    LOL im a couple years late but I dont see how the canucks booing the anthem as something to stew over. Nobody remembers during the year the Raptors won their first playoff series against the Knicks they booed our national anthem too

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