Hate to disturb you from World Series fever -- is anyone out there feeling it? C'mon now, someone's got to have it -- but how do you feel about hazing?
This is a hot-button subject right now. I turned on the CBC this morning, and they'd trotted out the dreaded "sports sociologist" for comment. The newspaper editorialists are weighing in, along with Pat Quinn and Wayne Gretzky, and most everyone is condemnatory.
This is as much a question of social custom, though, as it is one of sport -- the first haircut, for instance, is closely paralleled by the bean shaves that rookies in team sports are often subjected to. Sometimes these traditions, especially when they involve closed societies (like a team sport, with it's built-in insiders/outsiders dynamic), turn quite nasty -- anyone who saw Goodfellas, for example, might conclude that these kinds of initiations aren't necessarily a secure career move.
The Ontario Hockey League has adopted a zero-tolerance policy on these matters, so the penalties have been heavy. The situation has been equated, unfairly, with what's happened at McGill University, where the rest of the football season has been cancelled because of humiliating and degrading hazing.
But nobody in Windsor was hurt. Four rookies were targetted for the rite because they were rookies, and nothing more. You might be repulsed by it, and it's silly and stupid, but it's the same kind of thing that's been going on "since Plato's time, probably", according to Quinn. Hey, it's junior hockey, not nuclear physics. As Star junior hockey chronicler Sunaya Sapurji has noted in her blog, the hazing might have been a flashpoint that led to a fight between rookie Akim Aliu and veteran Steve Downie -- or it might not have, the incidents being 19 days apart. Whatever you figure, there are no saints to be found in this whole mess.
I don't buy the slippery-slope argument here, or see how the two situations -- McGill and the Spits, that is -- are equal. As for the Spitfires' hazing, and the fighting, the latter is a far worse example of losing control when it comes to a coach's responsibility, and that of his players. Zero tolerance doesn't allow for such fine distinctions, though.
Elsewhere this morning, this is what's rattling our chains:
The Argos head into Montreal this weekend, relying on Sean Millington to carry a heavy load.
Alvin Williams is back, and Vince Carter is applauding. For five minutes, anyway, which is maybe five minutes more than anyone figured at the start of training camp. He might even be ready to do more. And not to make ya shudder but: Dennis Rodman in Tijuana?
Cathal Kelly takes a look at FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, and doesn't much like the view.
Oh, and this: in Oklahoma City, Eric James Torpy, convicted of shooting with intent to kill and robbery, argued for a longer sentence than the 30 years agreed to by defence and prosecuting attorneys:
“He said if he was going to go down, he was going to go down in Larry Bird’s jersey,” Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott said of the sentece, 33 years to match the former Boston Celtic's number. “We accommodated his request and he was just as happy as he could be. I’ve never seen anything like this in 26 years in the courthouse. But, I know the DA is happy about it.’’