Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 09/14/13 at 07:03 AM ET
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
This trifecta of concern – danger, cost, time – is what causes the leaping five-year-old to become, at 13, 14 or 15, the child who steps aside, who walks away from a game they might return to in their late 20s – at which point, for reasons easily understood by those who do return, the game suddenly becomes “FFFFUUUNNNNN!” again.
Costs are reasonable; time is minor; danger is mitigated.
Years and years ago, former NHLer and television analyst Howie Meeker was warning hockey that if it failed to keep “fun” in the game, teenagers would leave it. Skill, he argued, is what makes fun. “And you absolutely cannot learn a skill in a violent atmosphere.”
They did not listen. Instead, they barked back – and still bark back – that it’s “a man’s game.” Suck it up and go away if you can’t deal with that.
No one says it isn’t a tough and physical game and should remain so at the most competitive levels. But we know today that having one’s “bell rung” is not cartoon stars and birds chirping. Concussion – a stigmatic word professional hockey is increasingly refusing to use – is such a serious issue that, recently, the NFL agreed to a $765-million settlement with 4,500 former players suing it over the consequences. That the settlement seems so shockingly low when you consider the damage speaks more to the desperation of those in dire need of help than it does to reason or fairness.
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