Generally when I write something “controversial”, the crazies come out of the woodwork and I get called every name in the book, as well as some names that aren’t in the book, unless that book happens to be “The Big Book of Crazy Expletives”.
Friday was one of those rare occasions when I wrote something that evoked a ton of response but nobody got carried away, although one guy called me Steve “Buffunery” and suggested I join his hockey league so he can “run me over”. Wow. Scary.
But here’s the thing, if you’re going to dish out an insult, get it right. It’s Buffoonery, not Buffunery.
Anyway, I wrote that I was against the Ontario Hockey Federation’s decision to ban body checking from house league and house league select hockey — believing it’s wrong to change a game so many of us love, a game that is physical by tradition, a game — not to get overly sappy — that’s rough and tough because it’s Canadian. To me, changing ice hockey to something else is just sad. I suggested there are plenty of sports for kids whose parents are afraid their little guys are going to get hurt, like ping pong and field hockey. Or even shinny hockey.
The response to my piece was pretty balanced, with both sides offering credible arguments. I still believe it’s wrong to take hitting out of house league hockey, though such media luminaries as Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun and Mike Toth of Sportstalk 1010 disagree with my stance.
Others who agree with the banishment of body checking from house league hockey argue the kids today are too big. Kevin said some smaller kids are “sitting ducks” because there’s such a huge size difference now. Shep said his son “no longer has to worry about ending up in a wheelchair because some bone head has been pushed by his coach to hit everything on the ice that moves.” All I can say to that is, if your son is worried about ending up in a wheelchair, then, honestly, he shouldn’t be playing. The game is supposed to be fun, not something that causes night sweats.
Scott on Twitter says his son’s health means more than tradition.
That’s fine. And I understand parents worrying about their kids. But my point is, if you’re afraid for your kid, there’s plenty of other options.
I’ve just always thought body checking was a fun part of hockey, and I’m not talking about dirty hits or hits from behind. Just good, old-fashioned body checking.
Some readers agreed with my assertion that the OHF ban on body checking is another example of our society becoming a nanny state.
Billy said it’s important for young players to learn how to give and take a hit. “For God’s sake let’s not bubble wrap our kids to get them through life ... what a sad people we have become”.
I’m gratified to those who agree with my argument because many times, after penning a column, I feel like the dumbest guy in the world. Now I feel less dumb.
“Yes,” wrote Brian Burke, in response to my piece. “Finally someone understands that contact is one of the key parts of the game and you can’t protect your kids forever. THEY’LL GET HURT EVENTUALLY!!!!”
Good point Brian Burke, although I don’t think the writer was the “real” Brian Burke because Burkie isn’t usually so supportive.
An old high school acquaintance, Bill, also agreed with my position, adding, “I still think you are a knob.”
That’s how I expect a real Brian Burke letter to end.
And, hey, thanks for the note Bill. Appreciate it. BTW, how’s that cross dressing thing going?
Even more surprising — pleasantly so — it wasn’t just men who took my side. Ami wrote that it’s unfair body checking is banned in women’s hockey. “Checking is a part of hockey period. Not just men’s hockey. Girls and (especially) grown women hate being treated like dolls too.”
Leavell1 said it’s wrong to treat boys like girls. “This is so inane, silly, politically correct, that it makes my head hurt (and not from a concussion). Just who exactly is running this organization and what did they do with the MEN??”
Some readers are taking their anger to another level.
I got an email from Dean Lapierre, the president of the Windsor MHA, who is threatening to take legal action against the OHF for “this insane decision being shoved down our throat.”
Some dudes on Twitter have started an on-line petition in the hopes the OHF overturns its decision. Save_Hockey urges everyone to contact their MPP to turn over the OHF’s ruling.
Perhaps the angriest response came from Ron, who believes OHF types should be sent to prison for “treason”. That’s even a bit harsh for me. Besides, if we’re not going to charge separatists for treason, I can’t see how we can charge minor hockey officials for treason, unless they’re separatist minor hockey officials.
Some letters were hilarious, including this one from James, who took issue with my suggestion that field hockey is safe compared to ice hockey.
“Men’s field hockey is a lot rougher than ice hockey,” said James. “So before making a statement like that, do your homework.”
I think my pal John Nicholson, a journalist in the U.S., summed it up best when he twittered: “Do they still allow tackling in kids’ football up there?”