Violence Begets Mindless Violence

A  Commentary by Doug Draper

Like many others, I turned on the tube this June 16 to images of cars in flames, store windows being smashed and police dressed in riot gear, wielding clubs and firing tear gas into unruly mobs.

Mayhem in the streets of Vancouver

I immediately assumed that these were more scenes coming from troubled regions in North Africa or the Middle East, or from Greece where countless thousands are rioting in the streets over the meltdown of the economy in that country. But these scenes were coming from the streets of Vancouver, B.C., and the riot followed in the wake of the hometown team’s loss of a hockey game!

Is this what causes tens-of-thousands of people to riot in the streets in Canada? Not our involvement in a senseless war, or the high jobless rate or the widening wage gap and systematic gutting of the middle class in this country. A hockey game,  for God’s sake.
Then again, we are talking about hockey and perhaps it should not surprise us that a game that features so much gratuitous violence on the ice might inspire more of it among those fans who almost always look (when you watch them at rink side) like they can hardly wait for another moment to cheer the fights on the ice on.

Hockey has always been a rough game and there have always been fights. But when I was watching it religiously as a kid growing up in the 1960s – way back when the NHL still only had six teams – it was still a game where the odd fight would break out. Now it more often seems to be a fight where the odd game breaks out.

The television sports media does its share to pour gasoline on the fire too. If you spend any time watching their coverage of the “highlights” of a game, they more often grace us with images of two or more players throwing down their sticks and punching each other out than images of great stick handling leading to a goal.

So as the old biblical line goes, you reap what you sow. It’s just too bad it tarnished the image of one of Canada’s most beautiful cities after it showcased so well before the world when it hosted the last Winter Olympics.

Just one more quick thing on the these Stanley Cup finals that had the Vancouver Canucks facing off against the Boston Bruins.

After the Bruins one of the final game and the cup this June 15, there followed a headline on the front page of The Globe and Mail’s sports section that read; “Our Game. Their Cup,” as if to say that this was a contest between Canada and the United States.

Actually, if you go on the internet and do a little searching, you will discover that more Canadian players make up the front-lines of the Bruins than is the case with the Canucks. If you want to dig back further in NHL history, to the days when there were six teams, only two of them were based in Canada, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. The other four teams were based in Detroit, New York, Chicago and Boston. But almost all of the players were Canadians.

Bobby Hull played for the Chicago Black Hawks and Gordie Howe played for the Detroit Red Wings, but they were as Canadian as the Mounties and maple syrup.

The Vancouver Canucks, on the other hand, is more of a product and a corporation like most sport organizations are in an age where they have done everything but make the players where the logos for Coco Cola and other sponsors on their foreheads.Actually, it is the Boston Bruins that has a much longer and richer history in Canada’s national game.

So let’s congratulate the Bruins on their first Stanley Cup win in many years. And let’s try to get past the misplaced nationalism around this match-up between the Bruins and Canucks, and focus on more important national issues, like the continued outsourcing of well-paying manufacturing jobs and the erosion of the middle class on this continent.

Unfortunately, I fear that for too many of today’s hockey fans, a discussion on the serious economic and environmental issues affecting the country would be as hard for them to grasp as a game without a bloody, bone-crushing brawl in it.

(Share your view on this issue in the comment boxes below and encourage your friends and associates to visit Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com to engage in and support the only venue in Niagara for independently generated news and commentary on matters of interest and concern to residents in our region and beyond.)

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