Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Anti-Fighting Hysteria

Ok, we can all agree that it is tragic that a young man in the juniors lost his life when his skull hit the ice after a fight last month. However, all this uproar about banning fighting or suspending players whose helmet comes off during a fight is just ridiculous.

The greatest ambassador any sport has ever had, Wayne Gretzky, has repeatedly defended fighting as a necessary part of the game. Rather than being a "brutal" aspect of the sport, it actually keeps hockey more civilized. No suspension or fine that the league could levy against a player for a dirty hit can match the deterrence factor of Big Georges Laraque's fists. Because Marty McSorley was always there ready to drop the gloves, Wayne Gretzky never had to worry about somebody crosschecking him in the face.

Now the Canadian Press has conducted a poll of America's Hat and found a small majority of Canadians in support of banning fighting in the game they love almost as much as curling.

Coach's Corner this week should be a rare gem indeed once Don Cherry learns about this. I especially can't wait to hear what he has to say about the fact that - big surprise here - Quebecois support the ban more than anyone else in Canada. Must be the French tendency to surrender.

Yes, there is a danger inherent in fighting. The biggest danger is exactly what we saw recently; a player falling to the ice without a helmet can hit his head and suffer fatal injury. That is actually what happened to Donald Brashear when Marty McSorley hit him in the head with his stick. If you watch the video in slow motion, you can see his helmet ride forward on his head so that the back of his skull was unprotected when it hit the ice. That's what did the damage, not McSorley's stick. This isn't to defend that hit, just to clarify what part of the incident caused the most physical damage.

There's a danger of a helmet coming off anytime there is a collision or fall. Should we ban checks, lifting the puck off the ice, and skating faster than 10mph as well?

You know, the Thrashers have a history of goalie groin injuries. We should outlaw goalies going down to their knees to stop shots. Danny Briere had the flu last week. We should outlaw NHL players having children because of the danger of catching diseases they bring home from school.


Mortimer Peacock said...

Damn moral panics. Just like Prohibition, I say.

Luckily, the other day Gary Bettman said he has no intention of banning fighting. So, hooray.

aaron said...

The only thing I'm worried about is kids like the pair of Michigan State goons that tackled the kid from Michigan. With more and more kids like those popping up, they can do much more harm than Big Georges Laraque could.