Two worthwhile posts about a certain juxtaposition making the rounds this week. On one side, an imagine of Dallas Stars’ Rich Peverley, whose heart briefly stopped during a game Monday night and who apparently asked back onto the ice upon his revival. On the other – a picture of a wincing Lebron being carried off the court during the NBA finals a couple of years ago, due to a leg cramp.
From this, all sorts of idiotic inferences are said to follow about how tough and generally superior hockey players are in comparison with basketball players, yada, yada, yada.
Here’s Yahoo! Sport’s hockey writer Ryan Lambert:
Let’s be honest here, though, this all stems from the fact that hockey fans are both scared and insulted that no one will ever respect this sport. Basketball is more popular than hockey — and, again, has more black guys in it — and is thus something to be assailed; LeBron James is literally among the most naturally-gifted athletes ever to come out of another human being, and therefore the perception is that he is soft, and doesn’t work hard, and doesn’t have THE HAHT OF A CHAMPEEIN like all hockey players — except Dustin Byfuglien and Evander Kane and PK Subban, just coincidentally I’m sure — do. If he wants to be seen as tough, he better die on the court and try to keep playing as well, right?
Barry Petchesky sees another downside to this line of thinking:
The symptoms of Defensive Hockey Fan Syndrome are actively harmful. This culture of toughness, the concept that playing through any injury is something to be admired, is exactly the mindset that leads players to cover up and ignore their own brain injuries. The folks calling Rich Peverley tough are the same assholes who think Sidney Crosby is a pussy because it took him more than a year to be able to skate without dizziness.
And these sorts of comparisons, Petchesky notes, leave people doing little more than chasing their tails:
Are hockey players pansies because their medical records pale in comparison to those of football players? Does Alex Chiasson lack grit because he didn’t feel like playing after Peverley’s incident? Does Peverley being sidelined indefinitely by a freak medical condition make him a sissy compared to Hank Gathers, who had to literally die on a basketball court to stop playing?
It’s great grist for the sports talk mill to argue over which sports are better and why. But trying to turn a fun argument into a grand claim about the collective character of athletes in one sport versus another is likely to devolve into simple-minded and misplaced moralizing. It’s just dumb.