by Lianne Castelino www.whereparentstalk.com
The utter hypocrisy of it all makes me want to vomit, truthfully.
For almost 5 days now I've been watching coverage of the Stanley Cup 'riots' in Vancouver. And everyday another disturbing layer of the story is revealed. Hopefully we are done now, but probably not.
Violence of any kind can never and should never be condoned. However, what I struggle with as a parent, sports fan and avid hockey follower is this: why are we surprised by the burned out cars, shattered store-fronts, scores of injuries, wanton acts of violence?
For months, if not years now, but especially this season, the NHL has been grilled for the skyrocketing number of headshots and violent hits in hockey. Just imagine for a second, those bruising professionals on the ice clothes-lining each other, now imagine the same scene without them wearing hockey gear. Yes, the streets of Vancouver, post Game 7. There is no difference except one scenario took place on the ice, the other on the street.
There are bone-crunching hits, bare-handed punches, fights with helmets and sometimes gloves — stop me when you see a difference, cause I don't. Oh yes, and my personal favourite, extreme close-ups of players or coachers mouths as they are swearing their faces off at the referees or opposing team. A 4-year-old can likely lip read those ugly words for heavens sake. And we're stunned by the riot? Really?
I'm as passionate a hockey fan as they come. But just because I watch and enjoy the sport, doesn't mean I support the behaviour. And yes I used to play hockey in a competitive environment and still play it with my kids and can fully appreciate the emotions it can evoke from a players' perspective. But that's no excuse.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree and in this case the argument can be made that the increasingly violent nature of many sports (someone explain the merits of the UFC to me please) is cultivating a new breed of fan — the violent-minded one. There are exceptions of course, but hopefully my point is made.
The other piece here, as always is accountability. A player who hits another into a concussion should be penalized with a punishment that fits the crime. Period. This is not difficult, nor does it require a physics degree. The NHL has been consistently skewered for not achieving this, however, hopefully the new faces in the regime will improve the situation sooner rather than later.
In the same way, the kid with the unmistakable sneakers, who torched a police car, and who comes from an affluent background and is a member of Canada's water polo team — should be punished.
Practice what you preach. Don't talk out of both sides of your mouth. If you do these two things, the rest is pretty simple. That applies everywhere, including pro sports team and fans.
No further analysis required.
In the meantime, we're searching for new ways to explain the on and off-ice lunacy to our kids, who happen to be hockey players and fans themselves.