Letter: Violence in junior hockey

Given the laxity of rules, the officials are bound…to allow such mayhem.

To the editor:

As a devout hockey fan, sports writers and coaches leave me wondering about the future of the game. When will the sport of the game be separated from the needless violence of fists to the head?

Living in a vibrant hockey town where the Memorial Cup is the ‘holy grail’ I’m increasingly left with the post game question: What constructive purpose does fighting serve beyond attracting fight goons to the game?

I’ll bet that there are more true fans turned away from the game by needless violence than those attracted to such antics.

Then there is the fact of concussions and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) that have cut short the promising careers of many talented players. We now know with scientific certainty that this is a fact of facilitating, if not promoting, such needless violence.

Hockey coaches, managers and owners ought to be taken to task on this issue. Football, soccer, basketball and even international hockey have outlawed fighting. Yet the mandarins in control of Canadian hockey continue to leave their heads stuck ‘where the sun don’t shine,’ a condition technically known as cerebral-rectal-inversion.

The problem exists to the extreme with the molding of younger players eager for a chance at the big time. These are strong young men, filled with youthful energy and drive. They do not practise endless hours and come to the rink to sit on the bench. Theirs is a youthful willingness to please and be recognized. Teenage minds in strong bodies, these are ready victims for the careless direction of adult management, urged on by the roar of those paying for blood-sport entertainment.

At a recent WHL hockey game our hometown Rockets entertained us with some fast-action, skilled play until gloves were allowed, by officials, to drop. Given the laxity of rules, the officials are bound, by implicit consent of the management, to allow such mayhem.

In the Nov. 3 edition of the Kelowna Daily Courier our blood lust is further entertained by a three column spread glorifying the event, while detailing the trading of punches.

The true result; Two key Kelowna players were seriously injured and unable to continue play. A third player was luckily able to continue after he “iced his knuckles in the penalty box.”

The true fact: Each of these young players and their parents have signed waivers that relieve management of having to provide any protection or guidance to young minds from needless violence. Playing their hearts out for no wages and little thanks, these are courageous but vulnerable young men. (While perhaps not an apt analogy, one is reminded of the world of Fagan in Dicken’s Oliver.)

The coach’s recorded comment: “It’s part of hockey. Good on him for doing it—that’s a testament to his character. Good on those guys for dropping the gloves.”

Would you send your child to a school where the teacher gave such encouragement to pupils on the playground? Why not? After all, you could probably raise more money from tickets than with a school bake sale.

Such are the questions of this season ticket holder. Ya gotta wonder!

Ian Sisett, Kelowna


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