While BlogCampaigning posts about a pretty diverse range of topics, we don't normally stray into the realm of local news and politics. I'm going to make an exception in this case, and that's because Robert Cribb's recent article about "locker room boxing" in the weekend edition of the Toronto Star made me sick.
The article talked about the recent controversy surrounding a video of two 14-year-old hockey players boxing wearing hockey helmets and gloves while other players and a coach watched.
The reason it made me sick was that I couldn't believe anyone, from parents to newspaper reporters, could be so naive as to think that this sort of thing doesn't happen or that it is a problem. I mean, what did they think these kids did before and after games? Play chess? Help each other with homework?
Does it matter that the coach was there? Maybe. If he tried to stop it, the kids probably would have done it later when he wasn't around. If he encouraged it, he probably encouraged a fair fight.
In the video (via The Star website), you can clearly see that the fight is stopped part way through when one of the players loses a glove. To resume the fight, the pair tap gloves like gentlemen. Yes, one of them gets clocked pretty hard but nowhere near as hard as he's likely to get hit in an actual hockey game. Keep in mind, they're also wearing helmets.
Cribb's article makes it sound like a bare-knuckle fight to the death.
This isn't a case of a group of guys teaming up on another and beating him senseless, as one of the parents quoted in the article seems to suggest. These two guys probably play on the same line and are having some fun. Or they're working out their differences in a constructive manner.
Some actual investigative reporting would have also revealed how harmless and widespread this type of thing is. Any guys that have grown up playing organized sports know that pre- and post-game roughhousing like this is part of being on a team. I grew up playing lacrosse, and battles like this were pretty much par for the course. I'm 27 years old now, and the guys I play soccer with still try and occasionally knock each other down on the sidelines.
The point is males have been roughhousing and causing trouble while growing up for hundreds of years. This isn't going to change. As soon as there is a blanket ban on "locker-room boxing," I guarantee that these kids will figure out both another way to cause trouble in the dressing room and a way to continue fighting each other outside of the dressing room.
These kids are playing on an organized sports team. They're hanging out with their peers and socializing as athletes in a constructive environment.
There are plenty of actual problems in Toronto that are more deserving of front-page news than this.
I feel sorry for the players and coaches that got captured on video and dragged into this mess. They did nothing wrong.