Sports Hall of Fame tears Page out of B.C. show’s iconic past
It’s time again for Sports Page trivia, ladies and gentleman.
The question: Even though the TV program — which neatly meshed highlights of the pros with feature stories on amateur sports around the Lower Mainland for 28 years — has been off the air since 2005, how often does former host Don Taylor still get asked about it?
The answer: On a daily basis.
Our winner is Taylor himself and his prize is a chance to help us all remember the so-called glory days. He’s one of several Sports Page alums still prevalent in local sports media.
“It’s probably every day and most of it is people saying that we need to bring it back in some way,” said Taylor, who is best known now for hosting TSN 1040’s noon to 3 p.m. weekday show alongside Bob Marjanovich.
“I feel the same way. I’m worried about kids knowing more about the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Maple Leafs than the Vancouver Canucks, B.C. Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps.
“I do feel hypocritical about that at times. I do feel that we could do even more local stuff on our show. It matters to me. I miss Sports Page. I’d want it back. I want Vancouver sports to feel even more important.”
The show is still popular enough that this Saturday the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame is opening Sports Page: The Exhibit. It’s a salute to the 40th anniversary of the program’s debut.
According to a news release from the hall, it will feature “dozens of different components, including a re-creation of a Sports Page anchor desk, interactive trivia games, items of memorabilia, inside stories and anecdotes.”
“To have it recognized is incredible,” said Taylor. “Everybody I’ve talked to at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame has said, ‘Hey, we watched it every night.’
“This is a really nice thing to have happen. If I’ve had any success in this business, it’s because of Sports Page.”
It’s startling to think about the talent that ran through that show over the years. Canucks television play-by-play man John Shorthouse was there. So was Dan Murphy, the host for Canucks TV broadcasts. Blake Price of TSN 1040 did a stint. And Scott Rintoul of Sportsnet 650. And Rintoul’s boss, Sportsnet 650 program director Craig MacEwen.
There were others. Barry Macdonald, Dave Randorf, Chris Hebb. You can list them for days. Shorthouse says “on a much lesser scale, from a regional standpoint,” that being a young sportscaster in Vancouver and getting a job from Sports Page boss Paul Carson was akin to being a young comic and getting tabbed by Lorne Michaels for a gig on Saturday Night Live. It’s difficult to argue with him.
Think about it. The show has been off the air for more than a decade and every Christmas there are people on social media going on about how much they miss Yulin’ with the Page, the quirky highlight show that had special guest appearances by local sports stars.
“There was a real cache to being able to say, ‘I work for Sports Page,’” said Shorthouse. “It was appointment viewing in Vancouver and British Columbia for a time.”
Murphy added: “It showed me this line of work could be a blast. It was the most fun I’ve ever had going to work. Taylor and BMac made everyone feel like they were on the same level with them. They were so inclusive. They wanted you to feel a part of the team.”
Shorthouse, for one, thinks the Page “has run its course” because of social media and 24-hour sports channels. He doesn’t think anyone would wait until 11 p.m. for highlights, like they did during the show’s heyday. Even Taylor admitted “we all talk a good show, but I’m not sure if it could work again.”
No matter. It’s fun to ponder the possibilities. And it’s certainly enjoyable to reminisce, which is something the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame is aiding in.
“It was a show that every local sports fan wanted to work on and one where you would tell everyone you worked on once you got there,” said Rintoul. “The Page set a phenomenal standard of prioritizing Vancouver and B.C. viewers and delivering the stories they cared about in a fun and entertaining manner.
“We were as proud of the trivia questions as we were of the unique stories we presented. We were all so passionate about upholding the standard and we never lost sight of what a privilege it was to be part of an incredible legacy.”
Canucks play-by-play man John Shorthouse, a Sports Page alumnus, said there used to be “real cache” to working for the show.