Fighting In Hockey And Chris Simon

The business model was to hire an “enforcer” to protect the talented sharp shooter. A side show would arise where crowds would rise to their feet cheering for the home town brute in a fight sometimes planned and oftentimes instigated by the mildest of infractions. There was this theory promulgated by the Don Cherrys of the hockey world that since the referees weren’t calling all infractions…then the brutes would just have to settle it on their terms.

Chris Simon committed suicide at the age of 52 yesterday and he was an enforcer for the Quebec Nordiques, Calgary Flames, and Colorado Avalanche. He also played abroad right up until 2013 when he would have been 41. At 41, you know he wasn’t likely on the first line because of adept stick handling skills and agility. Nope…he would have been there to settle scores with his fists.

Wikipedia reports that Simon was afflicted by Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. You know…that disorder arising from having your head punched in over and over. In our civil society, this is called “assault” but in a professional hockey arena it’s called entertainment.

When I attended my first NHL game in decades this past Saturday, I turned to my host when a scuffle broke out and said, “I was just thinking about how delightful it’s been not to have to witness a fight”. It would appear that things are getting better on the ice and the barbarianism is now perhaps less condoned than ever especially in lieu of the player law suits particularly over at the NFL. However; this doesn’t diminish the toll that a culture of violence has had on the suffering and longevity of Chris Simon.

Sport should be a place where healthy competition excels and skills and feats particular to human performance are broadcast for all of us to enjoy. There should be no joy in watching another human being be beaten.