Pro hockey prospects told to keep quiet about Fortnite fandom....
Fortnite may make for a good goal-scoring celebration, but some hockey prospects are being told to cool it with their ardor for the game, particularly on social media, as team management considers Fortnite a distraction in their development.
The Sports Network’s Rick Westhead said yesterday that players on an Ontario Hockey League team have been advised to wipe any Fortnite references from their social media. That’s because big league clubs “consider the video game a major distraction/obsession.”
The OHL is one of three major junior hockey leagues (17 clubs in Canada, three in the U.S.), taking top-flight players between the ages of 16 and 21. The suggestion sounds unreasonable until you consider that, back in May, an anchor for Sportsnet said an unnamed major junior hockey player had been sent by club management for counseling over his video game habit.
“He’s a recent first-round draft pick for a very, very prominent NHL team, will probably never play in the NHL because of a video game addiction,” Jeff Marek said, according to Sports Illustrated.
Players in minor professional leagues don’t belong to a union and have very little control over their advancement, and management is constantly fretting about character or distraction concerns with the draftees. Whether their assumptions are correct or not, they still have an outsize influence on someone’s future. Of course, it probably is a good idea for everyone to routinely clean out or protect their social media, as it’s increasingly material that can and will be used against you.
Several high profile athletes have been well known for playing video games. The Boston Celtics’ Gordon Hayward played in a professional StarCraft 2 event after joining the NBA in 2010, and had been scheduled to play in a Fortnite pro-am event this summer. He’s also made several appearances for League of Legends and Riot Games.
More often, though, when pro athletes and video games intersect, someone’s frowning on the story. Earlier this year, Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price’s carpal tunnel syndrome was rumored to be caused by Fortnite, though the team’s manager later refuted that claim. Clash of Clans was blamed for a midseason slump that almost sank the Kansas City Royals on the way to the 2015 pennant. And in 2006, Detroit Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya was sidelined from the American League Championship Series with a wrist injury later blamed on Guitar Hero.
From analyst Jeff Marek:
A recent first-round NHL draft pick might be spoiling his career prospects because of a video game addiction, according to some gossip passed along by hockey analyst Jeff Marek on the Sportsnet podcast 31 Thoughts. Marek, who declined to name the player, cited a conversation with his junior general manager, who said the talented prospect was draining himself with late night gaming sessions. Here’s a transcript of his comments:Originating Story
“On video games – and I’m not going to say the player’s name. I really doubt he’s going to make it to the NHL, and it’s because of a video game addiction, to the point where his junior general manager told me that they’ve had him go to counseling over it, because he’ll play until all hours of the night and into the morning and then he’ll have no energy the next day. Like, he’ll be a write-off. And it is that bad. He has this compulsion for playing video games until all hours. I swore that I wouldn’t say the player’s name, but it’s unfortunate. He’s a recent first-round draft pick for a very, very prominent NHL team, will probably never play in the NHL because of a video game addiction.”
Marek goes on to say that his information is between six months and a year old, and he adds, “This guy is a good player and was a high pick ... but there’s a good chance he’s not going to make it to the NHL and his general manager said, ‘Yeah, the video game addiction is bad. It’s bad with this kid.’”
Marek is probably right not to name the prospect, but it’s not too hard to come up with the possibilities. The list of Canadian junior players who were recently drafted in the first round but haven’t yet made the NHL isn’t that long, and the “prominent” qualifier narrows the possibilities even further, depending on your interpretation. At least we know he doesn’t play for the Coyotes.