culture sports

Hockey and values

In case you missed it, a hockey player in the NHL (Sean Avery) said a rather crude thing about his ex on TV and now has been suspended for 6 games because of it. Keep in mind that this sort of thing wouldn’t have made people bat an eyelash in any of the other sports. Sure, it would have gotten some press and people would have been pissed, but nothing would really happen to them. To me, this shows what a difference there is between hockey players and all of the other players of sports in the US. A football player is in big legal trouble over an illegal gun, basketball players are constantly getting in trouble, baseball had its drug issues, etc. In the NHL, if you say something nasty on TV, you’re in trouble.

“Yeah, but c’mon, those guys beat each other up all the time! The NHL thinks it’s Ok for a guy to give a beat down to someone, something that would be considered assault anywhere else, but you nail him for saying something about his ex? That’s insane!” Well, yeah, it is a little odd, but there is an explanation. You see, when guys fight in the NHL, it is almost always about a character issue. If you go after a smaller, talented player, the big boys will come back and beat the crap out of you. If you hit the goalie, whoever is closest to you from the other team is honor bound to start pounding on you. Occasionally, the bruiser from one team will start a fight with the thug on the other side just to get people fired up, but usually, there is a sense of justice involved in the fights. You are expected to be a stand up guy and play clean. If you’re not, you’re going to lose teeth…

And really, if you are going to do things like hit a goalie, make cheap shots, spear someone, or even crosscheck someone, maybe you need some sense beaten into you. The violence is almost (almost) always in response to other violence. I don’t know if it is a result of the justice system in hockey or not, but hockey players are angels off the ice as compared to other sports. They are held to a very high standard by the league. So when someone does something really objectionable on the ice, the “correction” is usually pretty swift in coming. But what to do about a guy that does something nasty off the ice? You can’t go jump the guy, so you suspend him and fine him to within an inch of his life.

Say what you want about the sport, but the NHL has its act together. I just wish the other leagues would learn something from them…

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