Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Senior vs. Senior: NHL returns to Winnipeg

A regular feature that puts a senior student and a senior citizen in the ring to duke it out over an issue of the day. This week, Ashley Wiebe took the first swing.

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Give me a new store any day of the week

I like to think realistically when it comes to a lot of things in my life. I have to see something before I believe it. And I couldn't be excited about something that didn't come with a name. People were hyped and excited about buying into a franchise, but do they really know what they bought into?

The only good thing I've seen about the announcement of the NHL team coming to Winnipeg is that for a few nights and one long day, it brought everyone together. Then again, so did the Stanley Cup playoffs and look how that turned out.

I only have one word for what I felt after seeing what happened in the city of Vancouver: horrified. It makes me sick to think this is what people are capable of -- and over something as meaningless as a sporting event. I strongly believe that riot would have happened even if Vancouver had won the Stanley Cup. Something of this magnitude doesn't happen all the time in Canada but when I think of what could happen at Portage and Main, that is exactly what I see.

Maybe the 20-something male inside of me would be overjoyed to hear about the return of the NHL. Maybe it would give my dad and I something to bond over. But the 20-something female I am thinks it's crazy, the way people act, how quickly the tickets sold out and how excited people are.

Winnipeg seems to have forgotten its priorities: better roads, cleaning up downtown lowering crime rates. What about that stadium? Or the human rights museum by The Forks? Should we be focusing on one task? I think Winnipeg is getting ahead of itself. We don't need an NHL team. We need to be able to take the bus home after 11 p.m. and not be worried. We need to be reassured that when our neighbour's house gets broken into, police have the situation under control. We don't need to be shutting down whole intersections for people to party.

Then again, I get excited about new stores, like H&M and Ikea, coming to Winnipeg. I'm not sure how many 20-somethings can say that.

-- Ashley Wiebe is a senior Creative

Communications student at Red River College

Jets fixation

a sign of immaturity

All this hullabaloo about hauling the Jets out of a bygone hangar to taxi down to the MTS Centre for takeoff is ridiculous. They've crash-landed once before in Winnipeg so who's to say it won't happen again, reducing their screaming fans to a sobbing bunch of losers? And even if the Jets manage to stay aloft, is it really such a big deal?

Just what kind of values (or lack thereof) do people have when grown men weep for joy at the prospects of a hockey team coming to town? Are they that emotional when they observe homeless people lying on the streets when it's 30 below? Or when flood victims have lost their homes and livelihoods? Or even when their own sons and daughters score big in amateur sports? Just what priorities are the city of Winnipeg reflecting when so much media coverage is given to a multimillion-dollar enterprise, the long-term trickle-down benefits of which are dubious? At one point, I thought it unfair that the team should be called the Winnipeg Jets and not the Manitoba Jets, as if nobody beyond the Perimeter ever supports them. At least now the whole province won't be identified with them, especially among Americans, many of whom don't even realize that Winnipeg is in Manitoba.

And I agree with Ashley that the prospects of mob mentality, the likes of which we saw in a positive way at the announcement the Jets were coming, could just as easily sway to the other extreme. Senseless rioting that could destroy the heart of downtown and put a blight on the entire city is not what law-abiding citizens want to see or experience.

The whole emphasis on the Jets coming back smacks of a kind of immaturity that ignores other businesses and the arts in favour of a sport where violence has become the norm, salaries cannot be justified and any contributions to society as a whole is questionable. Professional sports may have its place, but not as a priority. The Jets may be flying high for now, but let's see what happens when fans come to their senses and fully realize the price they have to pay for future tickets is not worth the trip.

When it comes right down to it, maintaining a balance is what life is all about, whether it's involvement in sports, participating in music or even visiting the future Ikea.

-- Alma Barkman is a Winnipeg freelance writer,

photographer and homemaker

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 3, 2011 A10

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