Comcast Sports Net Chicago’s website ran an infuriating piece yesterday entitled “Why Kane’s game-winner may foreshadow another Cup for Hawks.” Consisting of only 115 words of copy, it suggested the Chicago Blackhawks might be primed to repeat as Stanley Cup champions because their most talented player, forward Patrick Kane, scored a series-clinching goal in overtime against the Minnesota Wild the night before to send his team back to the Western Conference Final for the second straight year.
Their evidence was thus:
In 2010 Kane scored the Cup-winning goal in overtime of game six against the Philadelphia Flyers. In 2013, he completed a hat trick in double overtime against the Los Angeles Kings to send the Hawks back to the Final. And on Tuesday night, he did this.
CSN stupidly adds, “Notice a trend?”
No. It’s not a trend. If it were a trend, there would be more than two pieces of evidence. Also, Patrick Kane is a top 10 player in the NHL, maybe even top three. He is not some good luck charm who magically creates a universe in which his team is guaranteed its league’s highest achievement for something he did weeks before. He is in almost all cases, the best player on the ice, juking, faking, spinning, and able to score seemingly at will when he’s at his best. If he continues his career in a Blackhawks sweater, it stands to reason he will score several more series clinchers on top of the normal boatload of scoring he provides.
But to suggest that a goal scored in one series means the team will win it all is asinine. It’s fan baiting. It creates a delusion to suggest that, because it’s in the media, it must be true and that the CSN staff are experts on the subject when they clearly don’t understand the fundamentals of logic. It must always be repeated that correlation does not mean causation, but in sports writing, that logical fallacy is everywhere. “They did it before, so they’ll do it again!”
That’s the same as saying, “I sneezed the day my grandpa died. Achoo! Quickly, go check on grandma!” It’s lazy and people get paid to do it. They get respected by fans because they have the cloak of legitimacy provided by their position at a network with “Sports” in its name. But it’s not legitimate to throw false information to people, pat yourself on the back, and call it a day. It’s misleading, bad journalism.
Now, sports journalists being misleading about the correlation-causation problem isn’t the same as spreading propaganda about real problems like, say, climate change, but it takes the fun out of talking about hockey with other people. If they don’t have a Woody Allen-style tendency to overthink every aspect of life, they are more likely to ignore the slight cognitive dissonance given them by a writer who didn’t think for a second about what they were writing. As a journalist, if you mislead people — be it willfully or because you’re stupid — in any milieu, you’re doing a disservice to the job. You make yourself look like an idiot, or, more likely, you are one.
So please, CSN staff, do your job better. Or hire someone who can do it better for you. Either way, stop spewing drivel to the masses that ends up in my Facebook feed without my asking for it.