Last month, Dallas Stars hockey player Rich Peverley had a cardiac event and collapsed on the Stars bench during the first period.
Thankfully, the medical staff on hand handled situation, using a defibrillator to revive Peverley and to whisk him away to a hospital for further care and testing. The game was postponed following this event, on account of how shaken up the players, coaches and fans were.
Apparently, when Peverley regained consciousness on the ground in the arena runway, he asked about the game’s progress and wanted to go back in.
Sadly, it was very easy to predict that some hockey fans would use this news to bolster their opinion that hockey players are the toughest dudes out there, especially when compared with professional basketball players. (Take a quick peek at this Elite Daily post for an example of what I’m talking about. Their favorite target is LeBron James, and they contrast his leaving the court after breaking his nose or cramping up with how manly hockey players are. They also like to pick on James for saying “I” more than “we” in interviews and other such nonsense.)
It’s unfortunate that these posts and memes are being created, because it’s not gong to make any rational human being any more interested in hockey than he or she was before a select few fans started sh**ting on basketball players and other athletes for no legitimate reason. It’s going to make people wary of hockey fans who, for whatever reason, feel a need to position their sport as superior to others via illogical arguments. They especially target the NBA, since the seasons take place at the same time and the two leagues battle it out for air time—a battle the NHL has lost for as far back as I can remember.
The hockey fans who have this bizarre inferiority complex consistently go back to the same argument for why their sport is great: the athletes are the toughest out there, or are at least, tougher than players in the NBA.
First disputable point: asking to go back into the game following a serious cardiac event does not make you tough at all. It makes you stupid and misguided (though Peverley was probably not fully aware of what was going on at the time, or at least that’s what I choose to believe, because most people are not that stupid).
Consider that hitting and fighting are two things that are legal in the NHL. If those things were legal in the NBA, Metta World Peace would be one of the highest-paid players in the world. And if you took off the skates and let LeBron fight somebody like Matt Cooke, I’d put my money on LBron any day.
By nature, hockey is a sport that gives you ample opportunity to display your physical toughness. Basketball is, inversely, more about dexterity, finesse and skill. This doesn’t mean that basketball players aren’t tough in the way that hockey fans claim NHLers are. It just means they don’t get to blatantly show it like hockey players do. Comparing the NBA to the NHL is like apples and oranges in pretty much every way one can think of. One should also consider that many NBA players may have become the best hockey players of their generation if they had grown up in a place where hockey (the most expensive sport for children –except for maybe dressage– to get into) had been more accessible.
All of this aside, who cares if your favorite winter sport has tougher players than another sport? How does that benefit fans and players?
I’ll tell you who cares: the players. And it’s to the detriment of the sport and their own well-being.
My favorite team is the Pittsburgh Penguins. Not long ago, Pens’ defenseman Kris Letang was sidelined indefinitely after suffering a stroke. It was found that Letang has a hole in his heart that may need to be surgically corrected.
Letang brought his ailment to the team’s attention after his wife found him blacked out in their bathroom. When he regained consciousness, he couldn’t form words for a while.
Thing is, Letang had a similar thing happen to him in the days prior, when he was alone. Instead of telling someone, he kept the information to himself and played in a few more games.
So what would have happened if Letang would’ve had a stroke during the game, after suspecting there was probably something wrong with his health?
He wouldn’t be remembered as tough.
He would be remembered as dumb.