Thursday, January 15, 2009

OHL's new jerk reaction

I am a political junkie. Love it in all shapes, forms, colours etc., I watch with interest, political news from any source I can, and I have professional experience in politics. So far be it from me to have an opinion on Hockey, but I do. In between yelling at Mike Duffy or Don Newman, from the comfort of my sofa, and through the TV, and after I have had a good dose of Blitzer or Brown, I watch TSN. From Boxing and hockey to curling and golf, and oddly the occasional spelling bee ( my thoughts about spelling bees on TSN can be discussed later), I get my fill.

So with that in mind, and noting my limited expertise in the field, I offer you this thought in reaction to the OHL's recent rule change regarding helmets during fights, a decision made in response to the terrible and tragic death recently of a man in Ontario during a hockey fight.

This was a preventable death yes. As preventable as deaths from car accidents are, which is completely. I bet you are wondering what I mean. I mean that deaths from car accidents are completely, 100% fool proof preventable. Just ban driving any vehicle whatsoever. In turn we can prevent terrible, tragic, accidental deaths in sports by just banning all sports. I hope you all get I don't actually want to ban either of these things.

The point I am making is this. From what I can tell, this death was a fluke, no one wanted to see this man die, it was a fight in Hockey, that ended horribly. Part of the reason was that his helmet was off. This new rule will penalize players a little more, if they take their helmet/chin strap off. But they still can fight, they still will. These are kids, as young as 16 and as old as 20. They are playing hockey in one of the best leagues in the world. Often away from home, in sell out rinks, with autograph seeking fans cheering and willing them to victory. Hockey is a rough sport. Tempers flare, and with the hormones and testosterone levels of teenage boys, mixed with what must be thrilling adrenaline rushes from the screaming packed houses, fights will happen, regardless of penalty, unless it is banned.

With that said, I don't think fighting should ever be banned. I suspect, and I may be wrong, but people have died or been permanently injured, from hockey injuries, that weren't fight related. I have seen people crash into the end boards, head first. We all have seen these big hits that knock guys helmets off, chin strap be damned. In football, huge men hitting each other as hard as they can over and over has caused broken necks, life altering injuries, and could easily lead to death. Car accidents lead to deaths. Poorly built electrical equipment that catches fire causes death. Falling trees due to hurricanes cause death. You get where I am going. There are billions of people, we all will die. Some deaths will be senseless, awful, and gut wrenching, as in said Ontario hockey death. Others will be due to natures course on our tired and strained bodies.

We could do lots of things to make sure certain deaths don't happen. And I hope, out of this death, Hockey Canada does look hard at the issues of players safety, in all aspects. I hope from this honest, open, consultative and wide spread debate that we should have on the issue ( Hockey is our sport, we should set the example for the rest of the world), that we can come up with new and appropriate ways to prevent as much injury and death as possible, and hopefully to end any death completely. Knee jerk reactions are rarely looked back upon as well advised. The phrase " in hindsight" tends to come up a lot. Our approach to this issue should be genuinely Canadian; calm, open, thoughtful, informed, caring.

It's our great game, let's protect the men and women, boys and girls, who play it.

No comments:

Post a Comment