Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Minor League Hockey Team Folksily Courts Publicity by Exploiting Mentally Unstable Celebrity

Unlike Craig Ferguson, the American Hockey League's Syracuse Crunch doesn't avoid the easy targets, as they've offered Britney Spears (she of the recently exposed dome and rehab entrance) an all-expenses paid trip to Syracuse to attend some of their games. The news is being announced in conjunction with a team promotion wherein women who shave their heads will get into Saturday's Crunch game against the Manitoba Moose for free.

Crunch owner and president Howard Dolgon has suggested--allegedly with a straight face--that the offer to Britney is being made out of genuine concern for her mental health, stating that "in addition to being 3,000 miles away from Hollywood, Syracuse is light years away from that pretentious environment." Dolgon then went on declare that he expects Spears to learn how to ice skate, practice with the team, and perform both new and time-tested songs for the crowd. (I wonder if he was so demanding of Dora the Explorer.)

What's gotten into minor league hockey these days? My personal experience is limited to the occasional NHL game, but I assume that minor league promotions used to involve free hat giveaways and the like. When did the the small-timers get so presumptuous as to expand the practice to include the ritual humiliation of internationally known figures? (Could this insatiable appetite for exposure be Stephen Colbert's fault?)

Perhaps the unseemly penchant for national-newsworthy promotions in minor league hockey is not borne of necessity so much as it is of low self-esteem. Consider Dolgon's statement that "there won't be paparazzi within 100 miles" of a Syracuse Crunch game. You can't deny that he's right...given that there won't be anybody--including, I'm willing to bet, one Britney Spears--within 100 miles. It's an American Hockey League game.

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