Re: Don't you just love hockey?
posted at 7/31/2009 10:48 AM EDT
It certainly is true that the troubles of hockey are no where near those in the other major sports in North Amrica, as well as soccer.
I think the most obvious reason for that is where hockey players come from vs. where players in baseball, basketball, and football come from, as well as the existance of "the code" in hockey.
whether they're Canadian, American, European or even Asian, hockey players all tend to be from northern communities, and the majority of NHLers are from small towns, farms, or small cities. These communities tend to have a different lifestyle that is more community and family orientated with less violent crime and abject poverty. And as anyone who has spent a winter on the Canadian Prairies can attest, neighbours really look out for each other (there's simply no other way to survive a Manitoba winter).
For example, look at Jarome Iginla, considered by many insiders in the league to be THE class act of the NHL. Iginla grew up in St. Albert, a sattelite community of Edmonton whose primary industries are agriculture and oil. The crime rate is among the lowest in Canada, and it has a northern sensibility due to its being one of the environmentally harshest cities in the country. St. Albert's education system is ranked in the top ten in Alberta, and the standard of living is among the highest as well, even though it is still relatively rural. He is the son of an Nigerian immigrant father and an American mother his mother's a budhist and his dad's a christian and he was exposed to both faiths. He grew up emulating Grant Fuhr (arguably and ironically, due to a short period that he used cocaine as well as a bust, one of the few black marks on the game from a character standpoint) and Mark Messier.
Then look at say Michael Vick. He grew up in the worst neighbourhood in Newport News. He was born to a pair of high school students who eventually got married. His parents had to work two jobs each to support the family so were never home. The housing project he grew up in was aptly nicknamed "Bad Newz." It has one of the highest crime rates in Virginia and drugs and shootings are common place. Vick himself said that he took up fishing just so he would have an excuse to "get out of hell."
Now do these environments completely explain why Iginla is a King Clancy winner and Vick is a convicted felon? No.
But when you consider (other than the mixed heritages of his parents) Iginla's background is fairly common among hockey player,s and Vick's is fairly common among football and basketball players, one can see how these upbringings may contribute to the overall character of the various leagues. (And as you may have guessed I used Iginla for a comparison to show that race is not a factor)