“Win or lose, do it fairly.”
Last night my daughters hockey team played a team of thugs from West Hartford, CT. Pretty much from the outset of the game, they played dirty, all with the blessing of their coach. Although her team was losing badly, they kept playing hard, but fair. And even with this commanding lead, the team continued to deliver cheap shot after cheap shot to our young ladies, even breaking the nose of one of our players.
Earlier in the game, my daughter had been checked into the glass. She wasn’t really injured, but certainly could have been. As the game proceeded. she took several more hits, all without penalties on the opposing players. It was clear to me and the other parents in attendance that they game was getting out of hand. In the third period, my daughter took this cross check to the back of the neck and she went face first directly into the ice (see picture below). Finally a major penalty was assessed to the other team!
Now I am under no illusion that hockey is a totally safe sport. But it is most safe when you play by the established rules and you have referees who enforce those rules. The reason I am writing this entry is because our players did not stoop to the level that this team started on. They went into the game with a high degree of integrity and sportsmanship that never wavered. Not even when the score was 6-0 and they were basically getting mugged left and right, our young ladies retained their composure and played hockey.
Were they frustrated? You bet. Were they pissed off? No doubt. Were they wondering why the referees weren’t calling obvious penalties? Of course. With all of that, they kept playing good, clean, hard hockey. These days, that is all I can ask for. They could have just as easily started employing the same cheap tactics that had been used against them the entire game, but they didn’t. Even though they lost the game, saw the other coach ejected and took a beating, they ended up winning the game because they were the ones who walked off of the ice with their integrity intact. Not so much for the other team.