If you’re a Flyers fan like me (God rest your soul) then you’re probably just as annoyed by all the shocked and amazed comments about how we had gone around 20(?) something games without a fighting major. I mean…it is Philly, aren’t we supposed to be dirty? Have the Broad Street Bullies forever left us? Who knows? That’s not what this is about. This is about something that I’ve been noticing a lot of lately – fans complaining that the sport of hockey is becoming too “soft” and isn’t as violent as it once was.
I’ll admit, I’m guilty of enjoying a good fight that results in one or both players skating away with some blood dripping from their face. It makes the game more interesting and always seems to give one or both teams a little boost of energy to play the rest of the game and keep the intensity up. However, after my Dad (bless his heart) tagged me in a post on Facebook that was a video showing some big hits from past games, I started reading through the comments.
A lot of them were talking about how football players’ hits were nothing compared to hockey players’ hits, and I’m not going to do the research on it, someone somewhere probably already did. But, as fans of hockey, we know that hockey hits can be bad.
The video my Dad had tagged me in, while entertaining, was probably more like a video on career-ending hits, or showing the moment when one of the players got a TBI.
Hockey isn’t getting “soft”, they’re starting to get their shit together and understand that traumatic brain injuries are a serious thing and that hits, no matter how “clean”, can ruin someone’s life. I don’t care that Brad goes to the games to see fights, the players’ health and safety is more important than your entertainment. These players are real people with families. Their careers should not end in their late 20’s, early 30’s because of a brain injury because the league thought was less important than entertainment. I care that the Pittsburgh Penguins let Sidney Crosby come back after a concussion, before the recommended rest period was up, just because they were in the playoffs and needed him and seemed to care more about winning the series than his own well-being. I’m pissed that people joke about how hockey players always get back on the ice after getting hit in the head with a puck or getting their head slammed into the boards.
I don’t care if hockey is getting “soft”. I’ve been a fan of hockey my entire life, I have seen bloody fights and seen rules change and things change. I am still a fan and as a fan, we should care about these players’ lives. It is still possible to enjoy the games and not care about these guys getting into fights or there being stricter rules and regulations on hits. If you want to watch a sport solely for the violence, go watch boxing or wrestling. Hockey isn’t just about the fighting and if that’s all you care about, you have no place being a fan.