As the hysteria surrounding Sean Avery’s recent inflammatory remarks hits new lows, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke at an Edmonton luncheon attended by 400 (roughly twice the size of Versus’ average viewership for hockey) continued the onslaught (from the Canadian Press) :
“What Sean Avery said was wrong. It was offensive. It was disgusting. We have a lot of women who are fans. We have a lot of children who are fans, and to be perfectly honest I wouldn’t want to have to explain to my 12-year-old daughter what he said.”
Would it really be that hard? Surely a creative parent could fashion some analogy that involved the NHL being “dumped” by ESPN, but later seen “dating” a less discriminating suitor? Seriously, if Bettman’s 12 year old has never heard the phrase “sloppy seconds” before, he deserves some sort of award for Father Of The Year (the year 1952, that is). The Star’s Rosie DiManno, no fan of a player she calls “classless” and a “goofball”, wonders “when it was decided that, on the depth chart of intolerable infractions, slinging dirt at one’s ex-girlfriend was more reprehensible than racist barbs, unprovoked in-game assaults and the total farcing of hockey as professional sport.”
It is not the league’s responsibility to impose chivalry on its players, nor to extrapolate from Avery’s slur a psychological diagnosis that needed redressing in the form of anger management counselling. Certainly not when no such brainpan re-scrambling was foisted on the likes of Todd Bertuzzi and other hotspurs who have wrought severe injury, rather than simply wounded feelings.
It is infantilizing of women and inherently sexist to assume we need Big Daddy protection via the paternalistic intervention of a sports commissar. If intercession was required, there have been far more flagrant transgressions in The Avery File to warrant heavy-handed punishment and mental readjustment. “Sean had been warned that he was getting close to the line too many times,” Bettman told reporters. “He’s probably been over the line on a couple of occasions that we couldn’t prove.”
Bollocks. This was about the perceived daintiness of women as opposed to the stronger resilience of men subjected to both verbal and physical abuse, Avery the well-chronicled ambusher. Said Bettman: “We needed to be clear this was the type of conduct we did not think was acceptable or reflective of what we do.”
But if protecting a woman’s virtue “ ugh “ is such a priority, why did no hockey authority comment on sworn evidence from the recent trial of disgraced coach/agent David Frost, when his own defenders testified that two-on-one sex, even five-on-one sex, was a common bonding ritual for teammates?