Sam Mitchell, head coach of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, is one of the most engaging and intriguing sports personalities the city has ever seen.
When he was asked to comment yesterday on the still-simmering trash-talk controversy involving Maple Leafs winger Darcy Tucker and Rangers center Sean Avery, Mitchell made some very valid points on the ass-backwards philosophy behind North American hockey and the double-standard the NHL enjoys and employs when it comes to the acceptance of over-the-top violence.
Here’s a brief excerpt, but it really is worth your while to read the whole thing.
“…It’s part of hockey. That’s (their) ‘culture’. If hockey players go in the stands, it’s hockey. Right? Seriously. Basketball players go in the stands? Ohhhhh, the sport is out of control.
Hockey players fight up in the stands! Basketball has one incident and all of a sudden…oooooohhhhhhh. It was a major thing.
How long in history have hockey players been going up in the stands? Since time began.
Why don’t you (reporters) write about it like you (did) when it happened one time at a basketball game? One time.
I have my theories why, but I’m not going to comment.”
Obviously, Mitchell has seen the infamous Mike Milbury video and filed it prominently in his memory bank. He may be off-base in describing the frequency and severity of modern-era hockey fights, but his thinly-veiled implication that a pro sport comprised of mostly white players gets away with far more than a pro sport comprised of mostly black players is absolutely correct.
Indeed, when NHLers routinely pound the daylights out of each other, all you hear in pro-fighting circles are sorry excuses about “self-policing”; yet anytime NBAers brawl the cliché used more often than not is, “the inmates are running the asylum.”
This discrepancy between the two sports’ reaction to violence by its athletes is reflective of the unfortunate realities of the real world – and yet another indication of the NHL’s pathetic refusal to demand its players demonstrate even a modicum of base-level sportsmanship during games.