I am not a fan of ice hockey and have only watched a few tiny snippets of games. But I found utterly fascinating this Radiolab episode that recounted an epic struggle between a journeyman hockey player named John Scott and the National Hockey League establishment.
It happened when two hockey journalists, annoyed with the way that the NHL ran things without any seeming concern for what fans liked and wanted, decided as a joke to start a campaign to get Scott, widely viewed as merely a ‘goon’ or ‘enforcer’ whose role was to physically intimidate opposing players and even fight with them, voted to play in the All-Star game, over the elite, skilled players who usually get this honor. (I find it astonishing that there is a sport in which a player’s designated role is to intimidate opponents, even to the extent of physically attacking them.)
John Scott was the professional hockey player that every fan loved to hate. A tough guy. A brawler. A goon. But when an impish pundit named Puck Daddy called on fans to vote for Scott to play alongside the world’s greatest players in the NHL All-Star Game, Scott found himself facing off against fans, commentators, and the powers that be. Was this the realization of Scott’s childhood dreams? Or a nightmarish prank gone too far? Today on Radiolab, a goof on a goon turns into a parable of the agony and the ecstasy of the internet, and democracy in the age of Boaty McBoatface.
It is a story that is funny, gripping , and poignant at the same time. I thought it might make for a good film.