Hockey v Birding
Based on the news coverage of the beginning of the season (exhibition games only so far) hockey has carried on where it left off. In fact it continues to exhibit and glorify the same brutality this game has displayed for decades.
The other night one could hardly watch or listen to the news without coverage of a brawl the Toronto Maple Leafs were engaged in. I forget the name of the opposing team but it hardly matters. Players pummeled each other, tried to maim each other with vicious swings of the hockey stick, players left the safety of the bench to get their punches in, even goal tenders far removed from the primitive spectacle unfolding in front of them decided to get involved. It was truly sickening. It was barbaric. It was the kind of conduct which would not be condoned even for an instant if carried out anywhere but on a hockey rink.
In the sports reporting that I heard or saw not a single reporter mentioned the skillful skating of an individual player, no reporting of a particularly effective passing play, or pretty goal. The only thing that was covered was the primitive, gladiatorial brutality. I guess the sports reporter covers what hockey fans want to hear and see.
The most popular hockey dvds are of the Rock'em Sock'em variety. Nowhere does one see dvds covering the most amazing goals of the decade, or the sheer skill and dexterity of certain players. Skill, goal scoring, passing etc. have become almost incidental to the violence, a medium for it, so to speak.
Even when the NHL draft was covered by the media, the kind of comments one heard most frequently concerned the player's size, his ability to "skate through people," his toughness. Hardly surprising in fact when these are the primary qualities required in a player.
As far as I know, no birder bashed another with his binoculars recently (or maybe ever), no one decked another with either his fists or his scope, not a single naturalist swung his tripod at another to try to maim him or her. Not one individual body-checked his fellow birder into the swamp, or drove him into a tree. If parents with children happened along, they were treated to an introduction to nature, not a window into gross assault or attempted murder.
Hockey? No thanks. I'd rather be birding.