Chris Gallagher, an English professor at both Humber and Georgian Colleges in Ontario, has been reading my blog and sent a small essay he has written about the state of hockey. Chris is also part of the team at Informed Bet.com.
Gawd, I’ll bet he’s found grammatical errors in my stuff. Maybe the odd spelling mistake. I break English language laws all the time. Wonder what he thinks about that.
I know what I think. I think I’ll go back to bed.
Anyway, the professor writes the following –
The world of professional sport is a world all its own. It’s a world where
grown men and women make millions of dollars doing what many of us think
of as fun. Who wouldn’t want to make a career out of playing a game? Those
who are lucky enough – and good enough – to be professional athletes have
to recognize that they are privileged. Doing something that potentially
harms another athlete’s ability to reasonably participate should not be
acceptable. A graver offence, however, is damaging the reputation of the
game you play. One player alone does not ruin a sport, but an accumulation
of thoughtless acts certainly might.
At this point, it’s likely clear that I’m referring to last week’s Zdeno
Chara – Max Pacioretty incident (full disclosure – I’ve been a Habs fan
since birth). As much as I think it’s time for everyone to move on, I also
have a perspective worthy of consideration.
In 2004, I was lucky enough to spend several months working at a
university in Australia. As a Canadian in Australia one of the things I
missed most was the NHL. My only real source for NHL updates was the
Internet. On occasion Australian sports coverage briefly mentioned the NBA
or MLB after running through rugby and cricket results. You can imagine my
surprise when one night the lead sports story was from the NHL. It was
March 8, 2004 and the story was the Todd Bertuzzi’s attack on Steve Moore.
Tell an Australian that you are Canadian and the first question you’ll get
likely involves hockey. Following the Bertuzzi-Moore incident, for the
remainder of my stay in Australia, I constantly had to explain that that
wasn’t “real” hockey. It bothered me that such an incident misrepresented
a sport I love. A fellow Canadian once quipped that rugby and Aussie Rules
Football are brutally physical sports, but most Australian’s felt “ice”
hockey was heaps worse.
Imagine my surprise last week when a friend from Australia e-mailed me
about Chara-Pacioretty. He had seen the play on TV and was curious to
hear my thoughts. Here’s what I told him: that’s not real hockey. The
problem isn’t Chara, or Bertuzzi or any one single player. The problem is
that the league keeps making itself look bad.
– Chris Gallagher