Saturday, 29 September 2012

Blood Sport

With the NHL lockout, I thought this would be a good time to bring up my thoughts on what professional hockey looks like to me

"We who are about to die salute you" 
A long time ago in the coliseums of the Roman Empire, this call was heard. People stood up and cheered, howled for the kill and clapped when the next gladiator fell to the dirt with his life's blood spilling from a gash in his neck. This was family entertainment, that's right folks, bring your whole family to enjoy the sceptical: there will be lions and tigers and bears (okay, not too many bears), there will be dancers and jugglers and story telling, THERE WILL BE GLORY. And after the show, you can go back to your humdrum existence secure in the knowledge that the powers to be are providing for your every need.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the singing of the national anthem". 
People stand up and cheer, howl when the gloves come off and two men start swinging at each other and clap when another player gets knocked to the ice. This is family entertainment, that's right people, bring your whole family to enjoy the spectacle; we have panthers and sharks and penguins, watch this commercial and see a story wrapped around a juggling dancer. THERE WILL BE GLORY (yes, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup). And after the show, you can turn off your TV (today's blood sport comes to you, how convenient is that?) and go back to your humdrum existence, secure in the knowledge that the powers to be are providing for your every need. 

Okay, the parallels end right here. Anyone who is secure in the knowledge that the government is looking out for their best interest really need to take a good look at what happens in our nations capitol.

Now, I have heard that people say "Oh, this isn't about the fighting, this is about the sport". Yeah right, wake up and smell the blood on the ice. Here in our safe, comfortable, civilized world, hockey is about the fight. Proof? You want proof... Don Cherry, lets start with him and his "Rock em Sock em" hockey videos. Hours and hours of video footage devoted entirely to watching men slamming men into the boards, men punching each other, swinging sticks, poking ribs, and the resulting red flowing onto the ice.

Next up in the evidence locker - SLAP SHOT, a very cheezy, stupid and hilarious cult classic from the late 70's. Who can forget the Hansen brothers? Those lovable thugs. Heck, we don't have to forget them, today we have the likes of Todd Bertuzzi and Marty McSorley, and these are just two of the many in the NHL, we have such thugs on every time in every league and just about every age level.

And finally the old joke, "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out"
So, there you have it. In the words of the ABC laundry soap commercial "I can't see a difference, can you see a difference?" Do we want a sport where we can be proud of the accomplishments of the people playing? Or do we be honest with ourselves and just have the opening line of each game change to "We who are about to die, salute you."

Until everyone stands up and says "Stop the fight and let me watch the game" and actually do something like... Kick everyone off the ice the moment they pull their gloves off, or a decent fine like $100k every time they draw a penalty for high sticking, we might as well just sit back and enjoy the that which we have created

Anyone for a beer before the season begins?

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