Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tough Guy Mentality

Enough with the tough guy routine.  We get it, you're tough and bad ass and so on. I am particularly fed up with this mentality in hockey.  Back in the day, helmets were not required.  Let's be honest, the checking that went on in during the 1970's and prior was nearly as violent as it is today. Nonetheless, a Bobby Hull slapshot could do a number on anyone in any era.  But I don't understand this mentality in sports (hockey in particular) to constantly prove how tough one is by being underequipped. 

For example, hockey players not wearing visors.  What an awful idea.  A professional athletes job is to help his team win.  That is their aim, at least it should be.  Why not wear a visor?  It does not take away the athlete's ability to help his team outscore the opponent in 60 minutes or beyond.  What good is the athlete when they are injured and not cleared to participate?  I have always wondered this, and the recent Ian Lapierre incident has set me off on the matter. 

It takes tremendous courage to step onto the ice in an NHL playoff game.  However, even more courage is required to lay out in front of a professional slapshot. Why not wear a facemask though?  The object of hockey is not to prove how tough you are, it's about winning games.  Brain contusions don't win Stanley Cups.  Laperriere's injury is only the most recent in a long line of unnecessary injuries.  Imagine NASCAR drivers not wearing seatbelts, or baseball players not using gloves.  It's a good thing the NHL mandated visors for all incoming players a few years back.  If I'm the owner of a team, my players are investments, and they damn well better be wearing a visor.  Cut the macho crap and play the game.  No one thinks any less of a player for wearing a visor.  The game is more violent and dangerous than ever, but it is also faster and more interesting to watch (if you give it chance at playoff time).  If you're interested in seeing guys get cut up and bruised then watch ultimate fighting.  I watch hockey to see athleticism, skill, and action.  Seeing some guy with a gaping head wound is not my cup of tea. 

Ian Laperriere is a  tough hockey player.  Unfortunately, he is now a spectator for the duration of the Flyers playoff run.  Is that worth not wearing a visor?

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