Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's Best for Hockey

I'm totally in touch with my inner dude. I love having a beer, watching the game, yelling at players and errant pucks and checking up on my hockey pool as if I was actually some sports god rather than a geek who thinks I know my stats. But lately, there have been two serious issues that are facing the game of hockey right now and they both pose a threat to the sport that I love and to my inner dudeness. They are:

1- Cheerleaders.
2- Head Shots.

1- I'm in touch with my inner dude, but I am not a dude. Let's make that clear. I love the game and I love watching it, but the last thing that I want to see is a group of bouncing blondes in skin tight clothing encouraging me to cheer. Not only are these figures merely ornamental, they don't make the game any better (are you listening, Edmonton? Your team will still suck even with Cirque du Soleil in the background).

I'm against cheerleaders because they're pointless and they trivialize the game. Your main focus if you're a real fan should be on the rink. And if your team's any good, they'll give you something to cheer about. Not a bunch of bunnies in the bleachers.

2- Head shots. They're dangerous and they're detrimental to the game. I love a good clean check, but thugs on ice is not my style. Head shots are ruining careers and putting people's very lives in dangers. We're past the Coliseum and the gladiators, people. It's time to put an end to vicious head shots to players when they don't even have puck possession.

You can argue the policy over and over again and come up with a million scenarios, as long as you get the issue resolved. As complicated as the issue may seem, lawyers deal with worse every day in basic assault cases using mitigating and aggravating factors. Yes, it's time to call in the lawyers.

Aggravating factors: player doesn't have puck possession, opponent sought out the victim at high speed, opponent made contact with his elbow with a clear intention to hurt, opponent used undue force.

Mitigating facotrs: player did have puck possession, player's head was down, player fell against the board of his own accord as a result of the hit and not by intention of the hit.

Sure, there's lot of grey area in here to argue for and against. Acknowledging the complexity of the issue is part of dealing with it- not dealing random 6 game suspensions for every act. A case by case analysis is going to be costly and time-consuming. Nobody ever said justice was easy or fast. That doesn't change the fact that we need it.

Hockey's in danger of being trivialized and brutalized. We don't need more violence to up the ante and make the game interesting for people. It's a contact sport, but not a blood sport. We don't need sexy cheerleaders to make it more appealing; the game, if played well, is beautiful to watch. What's best for hockey is hockey.

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