While reading the September 24th edition of The Echo, it suddenly dawned on me that the only picture in the paper relating to team sports showed two hockey players being separated after a fight. Sports of various types have always been a major part of my life and I enjoy seeing photos of athletes in action. It takes some very special skills to be outstanding in any sporting endeavour. But what skill does it take to drop the gloves and smash someone in the nose? And yet, shots of fighting hockey players are not unusual. Perhaps even a part of our national culture?
Well, fighting hockey players have always turned me off! Ever since coming to Canada over 40 years ago, I’ve heard comments such as, “It’s part of the game.” Name one other sport where fighting is allowed! “Oh, it’s such a rough sport that the players have to let off steam.” Hogwash! I played nine years of organized football and then coached the sport. It was a disgrace to be involved in a fight. I also took up the “gentleman’s game” of rugby at the ripe old age of 40. There was only one way to play either game, as my university coach used to say: “…Rough and tough, but according to the rules.” No fighting allowed.
One ironic fact is that the Canadian armed forces have been sent all over the world as “peace-keepers.” And yet, countless “mini-wars” are commonly fought on cold evenings all over the country in our local hockey rinks. The participants even have weapons.
Why don’t you give high school sports such as volleyball and basketball the same sort of coverage as hockey? The athletes are sons and daughters of local residents. Oh sure, we do see the occasional team picture after a tournament, but I cannot recall ever seeing a single write-up about an upcoming event nor any schedules for local team sports. I’m sure the coaches would be more than happy to have additional support for their teams and it might make the kids play even harder. It certainly made a difference to me. Maybe you could even find a student reporter.
Oh, by the way, one of the most valuable lessons learned from participating in sports is good sportsmanship. You will commonly see that displayed at high school games. Where is that trait evident in hockey? When did you ever see a hockey player give a helping hand to an opposing player? Why does it have to be a war?
Some people will condemn me for being a hockey heretic so I must admit to never having the incredible skills necessary to be outstanding in the sport. The only playing time that I remember was when I became discouraged because 4th grade girls were knocking me down.