Bloodsport or National Icon ?
In this day and age of easy access to all forms of media at all times of the day, be it through your television, PVR, the Internet, movies or what have you, parents are expected to teach their kids right from wrong, real from fake, entertainment versus reality and so on. In reality, many parents these days never even have the conversations with their kids about what is “right and wrong”, other than “don't hit your sister” or “clean that up, so help me!” - So, the powers that be have little reminders to nag at the conscience of parents, to remind them that some content may not be suitable for kids under a certain age or, at the very least, a reminder to the parents to tell their kids that what they're about to see is not real, potentially scary/upsetting and wouldn't really happen (“No, Virginia, aliens don't burst from your stomach. Now, pass the popcorn”)
So, where are the warnings before NHL games ? I never see a pre-screen that says “Warning, may contain content not suitable for children under the age of 14” or “May contain gratuitous violence and coarse language”. What seems to be worse is that without these warnings, some parents sit right beside their kids and scream at the television screen for one guy to “kill him” or “beat the crap outta him!” or “Smash that @#$&^er into the boards, you idiot!”
What is even worse than that is these same parents take that same attitude to the little league rinks and scream the same brilliant “advice” ... to a bunch of ten year olds.
So the kids see their “heroes” doing it on TV, they see their parents worshipping those same “heroes” for doing it on TV and then those same parents again encourage the kids to emulate this behaviour in a game that is supposed to be “in the spirit of fun, team work and physical fitness”
Why is it that if you send a hockey kid to the second grade and the teacher advocates other kids to beat each other up for the privilege of getting out for recess first, that parents would be screaming bloody blue murder and it would be a race between the lynch mob to string her up at the gallows and the police to take her away for child abuse, yet when little league coaches (and the wannabe “coaches” in the stands) advocate it, it's cheered on ?
Why is it if a kid breaks another kids' arm (or neck) on the playground, in the classroom or on the streets, a police investigation and a lawsuit are highly likely, but if that same kid ends up in the paraplegic ward at the hospital, “it's just part of the game, eh ?”
People make the low-brow argument that hockey is a fast paced sport where contact is inevitable and fighting is “part of the game”. Well, basketball is a fast paced sport and contact is inevitable – but: Contact is called a “foul” and these things called “penalties” are given out and ejection from the game is given if too many fouls occur. If a basketball player were so colossally stupid as to actually raise a fist against an opposing team member, he'd be ejected not only from the game, but from the building so fast his head would spin.
Funny thing is: Same thing with soccer. And football. And cricket. All of those sports are just as high energy, just as high adrenaline, just as “testosterone-laden” as hockey, yet if you raised a hand against a fellow player: Out you go. Even in football, where part of the whole game is about tackles and ramming into each other, you do not see players throwing gloves to the turf and beating the living daylights out of each other, while crowds of moms and dads with their kids beside them scream “KILL HIM! KILL THE @#*^&ER!!!!”
So why hockey ?
And especially: Why a sport that is supposed to be our national sport, to which tends of thousands of kids aspire to ?
Many of the (again) low-brows claim that fighting and aggressive checking is “part of the sport”, “makes it what it is” and so on: Yet each Olympic hockey, fighting, violence and aggressive contact is severely curtailed, at the risk of ejection from the game, yet tens of millions of people speak of games in hushed tones of awe for years and decades after some Olympic games.
Furthermore, finally and, perhaps most importantly: Thousands and thousands of doctors, nurses, health care practitioners, child health experts and sports safety experts are calling the advocacy of violence in youth hockey no different than child abuse. Because that is exactly what it is: When you advocate for a child to actively and consciously go out and harm another child: That is abuse.
Funny thing is, in anything but hockey, not only is that an arrestable offense, but it's one that will get you put into a segregation cell in prison, because even murderers and rapists won't have anything to do with child abusers.
Marc Bissonnette is the proprietor of CanadianISP, Canadas' largest Internet Service Provider search and comparison site.
This site is maintained by Marc Bissonnette, of Beachburg, Ontario, as a small method of "Giving back" to the community which has become our wonderful home.