The Good Old Hockey Game

by John J. Miller on September 19, 2011 · 0 comments

in Blog Posts

  • SumoMe

The Canadian magazine Maclean’s thinks hockey can learn from the story told in The Big Scrum:

And yet it will take more than rule tweaks and player assistance programs to shift public perception in a meaningful and permanent way. Major changes to the very nature and culture of the sport will be required to really fix things. Prime Minister Stephen Harper may even need to get involved. There is precedent.

In the early 1900s, American football was under a threat similar to that faced by hockey today. The brutal nature of the game (in 1905, 18 players died on U.S. gridirons) led to widespread public revulsion. Many universities, including Harvard, Columbia, Stanford and Northwestern, quit playing. The Georgia legislature voted to ban the sport.

President Theodore Roosevelt, however, was a big fan of football and the rugged virtues it promoted. In response to the threats to the sport’s continued existence, he quietly convened a White House football conference, bringing together the era’s most important coaches, a meeting recounted in John J. Miller’s recent book The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football. …

Politicians obviously have no business micromanaging sport, but our Prime Minister could use his stature to encourage hockey to abandon its violent status quo in favour of something new and better, as Roosevelt did. Everything should be up for grabs. A bigger ice surface would place greater emphasis on skating and compensate for the obvious inflation in player size over the decades. Fighting could be banned outright and the position of team goon made redundant. Team benches could be shortened to eliminate the fourth line. Teams could play four aside the entire game. All contact to the head could be illegal.

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