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A bloody stupid decision

A bloody stupid decision

Given what’s now known about concussions, there’s no excuse for approving extreme fighting.

There are some things I will just never understand. For a few hundred thousand dollars, OK maybe a million or two, we’ll leave the ill, especially the mentally ill without adequate health service but we can afford the billions on the Olympics. It says something about how much our society cares about its citizens. Not only do we not care about the less fortunate, we won’t even take minimal steps to stop bad things happening.

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke of my watching Floyd Patterson, in 1960, knock out Ingemar Johansson in a heavyweight boxing match and how I was horrorstruck seeing Johansson out like a light for five minutes, blood streaming from his mouth and one of his feet twitching and how I instantly lost my enthusiasm for a “sport” I had always followed. What I finally grasped was that boxing had, as its primary object, concussing the opponent — in short, causing brain damage.

In the past few days, we’ve learned of a tragedy and complete insensitivity. I refer to the death of former NHLer Reggie Fleming, the comments by Don Cherry and the decision of Vancouver City Council to countenance extreme fighting or, as it’s now euphemistically called “mixed martial arts.”

Dr. Charles Tator, a neurosurgeon from the University of Toronto has studied the effect of concussions and has concluded, “Concussions used to be considered minor head injuries because we were taught in medical school that a concussion had only a temporary effect. It’s true that some of the symptoms are temporary, but the effects on the brain are often permanent,” he said.

“We can’t really speak any longer of a minor concussion. There is no concussion that is truly minor.”

After the autopsy, Tator correctly pointed out that the style or brand of hockey promoted by Don Cherry leads to head injuries.

Cherry didn’t deal with the issue, namely whether or not the hard-hitting, illegal-checking, fight-ridden game Cherry loves contributes to concussions but responded, “For this guy to come out and blame me for all the injuries I think is totally unfair,” and concluded that Dr. Tator was trying to get his name in the papers. This is, unfortunately, the sort of crap you’d expect of this mental midget who makes huge bucks promoting violence and bad mouthing European players.

Don’t blame hockey

It’s pointless to blame Cherry for taking all that money from the taxpayer funded CBC for what happened to Fleming and, amongst others, Eric Lindros, Keith Primeau, Pat LaFontaine, Adam Deadmarsh, and Nick Kypreos. (The total carnage cannot be determined but if you were to examine all who had played hockey, it must be immense).

Many years ago a New York sportswriter of great repute, Dan Parker, observed that “hockey is the greatest game in the world; it has to be to survive the people who run it.”

He might have added, “and the people who report on it.”

But maybe I’m wrong to even bother with Cherry, the CBC, or Gary Bettman and those who run and profit from the game. For haven’t most of us just loved hockey fights — unless our guy loses of course?

Isn’t the answer always that violence is part of the game?

Mike Millbury, a sportscaster with the CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, is a former defenseman, assistant general manager for the Boston Bruins, as well as GM and coach for the New York Islanders had this to say about Fleming, “Hey, unfortunately, he had some problems … It comes with the territory. You wanna be a hockey player, there’s danger involved. There’s going to be long-term problems.”

Such as “cognitive decline, behavioral abnormalities and dementia.” Or if it’s Kevin Kaminski, going from being a loving husband and father to coming within an ace of punching out his little daughter. What came with “his territory” was long-lasting: insomnia, irritability, vertigo, sensitivity to light. He couldn’t exercise because of headaches as soon as he got his heart rate up. His memory shot, he couldn’t find his car after shopping for groceries. He’d forget his PIN number at the bank machine — it was his jersey number. As Kaminsky put it, “All those dings you’d get fighting in the old days, you’d have a couple of Aspirins and away you went,” he said. “They didn’t consider those concussions back then. It was basically suck it up and go play. Those dings add up to problems and that’s basically what happened to me.”

During his four seasons with the Capitals, Kevin Kaminsky’s hard-nosed, aggressive play made him a big favourite of fans who dubbed him “Killer Kaminski” because he didn’t hesitate in provoking fights with much bigger opponents. You might be interested in Kaminsky”s career stats in the NHL — 139 games as a centre-ice man, he scored 3 goals, had 10 assists and had 528 minutes in penalties!

Voting for blood

Now Vancouver City Council has voted 6-3 in favour of sanctioning “Ultimate Fighting,” which can be defined as: two competitors using techniques from boxing, kickboxing, wrestling and other fighting styles to knock each other out. It used to be called “extreme fighting” but now those who run this barbarous excuse for a sport prefer to call it “mixed martial arts” — sounds so much more refined, you know.

There was one voice of sanity, Coun. Andrea Reimer, who voted against the motion saying “It’s become very hard for me to see the logic in passing this motion … I’ve spent a lot of time . . . dealing with the fallout of kids who have been desensitized to violence because of adult sanctioning of violence, but then adults also saying it’s not appropriate for children to participate in the same level of violence that we have sanctioned ourselves.”

Coun. Geoff Meggs, who voted in favour of the motion, in an amazing analogy compared this sport of “who gets to scramble whose brains first” to hockey, saying that even it promotes fighting. “It’s turning into a problem for the National Hockey League.” The answer of this council wit — no I exaggerate by half — is to give city blessing to scrambling of brains even more.

It’s Pogo saying “we’ve met the enemy and he is us! It’s pointless to single out Meggs, or Cherry, for people love this stuff, filling stadiums to watch blood and gore. Have you ever seen hockey fans boo a fight and ask the officials to stop it before someone gets hurt?

The fact is a very simple one. We know that boxing, hockey, football and ultimate fighting cause concussions that cause brain damage. We see glaring and tragic examples like Muhammad Ali. We know about the NHL stars like Lindros who had sense to quit and those like Fleming and Kaminski who couldn’t afford to quit since fighting was their only ticket to the big leagues.

Yet we fill the stadiums and call for more.

Homo sapiens is the most bloodthirsty species on this planet, the only one that encourages pain and suffering for entertainment.

One Response to “Vancouver Council’s Sucker Punch”

  1. Masterofnothing says:

    What’s old is new again – the bloodsport of gladiators. We all should put a thumbs down before would-be Caesar’s do in the context of the ring.

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