Ice hockey is faster than soccer, demands skills like basketball, la crosse, and polo combined, and the players can be any size. If you watch it in colleges and the Olympics, it’s a flashing thrilling sport. But as played by any professional league--Ice Hockey, Inc—it is brutalized by pandering to an audience that would rather be watching lions eat Christians in the Roman Coliseum.
Georges Laraque, the first black professional, in his autobiography, "La force d'y croire," writes: “When a team scores, the fans of the team that scored will get on their feet. But when there’s a fight, everyone gets on their feet.” Feeding this base need, Ice Hockey Inc, offers all the gore and mayhem such so-called fans want.[Photo: Enforcers, Derek Boogaard and Steve McIntyre, at Madison Sq Garden, NYC. Getty Images/Paul Bereswill]
Fostered by rules that encourage brawling on ice, Hockey, Inc. hires oversized hulks—enforcers—to terrify and cripple opponents, turning a great sport into a sordid travesty. A three-day feature by John Branch in the NY Times, details the short sad life of hockey enforcer, Derek Boogaard, not talented enough to make a team except as an enforcer, now dead at 28.
The glamorized gladiators of ancient Rome were slaves who fought to the death so that the Roman populi, fixated by blood and gore, could forget their own hopeless lives. As the American economy spirals down, jobs scarcer, life barer, ice hockey becomes its modern equivalent. But the indifference to life of Ice Hockey, Inc, brings no moral outrage. No supposed guardians of our national virtue mention the deliberate maiming and death of those like Derek Boogaart, whose repeated battering led to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, by the time he died from the drugs he took to make the pain of his oft-broken bones and torn muscles bearable.
Football, also a dangerous contact sport, has begun to "get it,"and is now taking steps to reduce the hazards. Professional hockey has not. Five minutes in the penalty box , the present price for brawling, should be replaced by ejection from the game, and after repeated violations, from hockey altogether.
James Branch should follow up his important story by naming names of those who pander and profit from this public exploitation of cruelty, injury, and depravity that is called professional hockey today.