We are near that time of year again when we take a day to remember the many men and women who have sacrificed so much, and continue to do so, so that we may live the way we have always known.
Taking a day out of our lives to focus on Veterans is the least we can do because without all they have done for us, Hockey and most of what we enjoy would not exist.
A day hardly seems enough, and every year people appear to recognize the sacrifice of military personnel a bit more, and want to do more for them, which is a good thing. But the focus always seems to be on long term goals or initiatives that would require government assistance, generally things that would be difficult to accomplish on our own.
I would like to do more too, and in fact, there is something we can do as individuals that may
not be flashy but I believe is significant and would have immediate impact.
We could band together as a society and stop referring to sporting events, in this particular case hockey, as War.
It seems impossible to go a week without a commentator, sportscaster or media person using the war analogy to describe a hockey game. This game will be a war, that series will be a war, etc. etc.
No, it won’t.
And the comparison is so ridiculous it’s hard to believe it’s ever been used in the first place.
Wars are fought against someone or something that can kill you, so if that is a possible result, only then should a relationship to war be inferred. We fight wars against diseases like Cancer, MS, and AIDS every day, to name but a few. These can and will kill you if we don’t find cures, so yes, a war ensues against these foes.
But unfortunately, broadcasters throughout North America don’t see a problem with the liberal use of the word war when describing the game we love.
How does this kind of thing happen? Is it laziness? That is certainly partly to blame. Sportscasters are particularly bad for jumping on what they think is the new hot phrase, somehow feeling like they will be left out if they don’t start saying it too.
Instead of expending the slightest amount of energy and unlocking some creative process to express their thought, they just repeat whatever moronic sound bite they recently heard from someone else.
For example, once the movie The Perfect Storm came out, everyone decided that this was the necessary phrase to describe something chaotic or unusual. “This goal was caused by a perfect storm of events…..blah blah blah.” Suddenly, whatever they were saying before that movie came out was no longer good enough.
I once heard a local sportscaster refer to a bad penalty as a “tickey-tack” call. Not long afterwards, I was hearing it everywhere. What language, exactly, would that be a sample of? So now we’ve regressed to the point where we are using gibberish that a 5 year old would say to try to get a point across? Pathetic, it’s hard to fathom an adult human can utter those words and expect anyone to take them seriously.
But at least a phrase like that isn’t throwing water in the face of thousands of people.
Laziness isn’t the only reason this happens, insensitivity also plays a role. Yes, there are big games that take place, but there has never been a game 7 that was akin to anything that has ever taken place in an actual war. To infer otherwise is a direct slap in a soldier’s face.
Regardless of the cause of this ongoing inaccuracy, the end result is that the constant references to hockey and war are disrespectful and offensive.
How does the media find similarities between war and hockey?
Not a single player is going to have to deal with an IED ripping through their vehicle as they move across the ice. No one is going to get shot, or face a missile attack, or be dropped behind the enemy lines of hostile forces. No hockey player will face a suicide bomber, or have to sweep a field for land mines, or have a grenade thrown at them.
Yes hockey is a violent game, and with the size and speed of the players today it is possible that a fatality could occur on the ice. But it won’t be at the hands of someone who was trained to kill them and was sent out to do it intentionally, so let’s stop that ludicrous conversation before it starts.
The courage of a hockey player cannot be questioned, and although complete disregard for one’s own safety is displayed every time someone falls in front of a Shea Weber slapshot, it is not the same as entering a forward area and risking your life while protecting a massive amount of people you will likely never meet.
A warrior’s spirit maybe, but a true warrior? Not unless they pick up a rifle and enlist.
Players never leave their families behind for months at a time, unsure if they will ever see them again, while facing the reality that they could be wounded or killed, or have to watch fellow players and friends die on the field of battle. A soldier has faced that scenario all too often and will continue to do so.
I haven’t encountered a commentator that isn’t patriotic and doesn’t have enormous respect for the military. But then they go on the air and in almost the same breath seriously insult the very people they are undoubtedly proud to have defend our country.
Why? Because they are lazy? Insensitive? Uneducated? Whatever the reasons may be, they aren’t good enough anymore. This year, because of the many tragic events that have occurred only recently, I would hope that things would change and the media would finally see the light.
Unfortunately, I doubt that will happen, but you can help. Start by spreading the word amongst your own friends and family, and at least in some small way, go to bat for the many men and women who have given us so much.
It may seem like a small thing, but that’s the problem. As long as the prevailing attitude is that it’s a trivial matter, our veterans are going to have to listen to what a war the Tampa/Detroit game is going to be, and that’s unacceptable.
Hockey is not the only sport to have this same issue, but we can’t seriously claim that if one group is doing something stupid then it’s ok for us to do it too. I think the sport of Hockey should strive to set a higher standard.
Hockey is not War, and maybe this year we can prove we understand the difference and stop insulting the thousands of people home and abroad that have been in one.
Darrin Hayes is a regular contributor for the Vancouver Canucks on TheHockeyWriters.com. Follow Darrin on Twitter @HayesTHW or on Facebook via TheHockeyWriters fan page.