Revenge of The Prissy Paranoids
IF you're over 30, you can just about remember
Criticism of The NHL's New Rule on Curved Blades Bears Witness to The Birth of A New Safety Panic
As Farber notes, the NHL has changed its rule for 2006-07 about the maximum curve permitted on the stick blade. Players can now curve their blades up to
But Farber isn't happy with the looser stick rules. The first hint is the subhead-line: "NHL's new stick rule elevates shots, scoring, injuries." Elevates injuries? How, one might wonder, could Farber or his editor reach such a conclusion before the season had even begun? It's a question he never answers. "The problem," he explains ineptly, "is that the more liberal rule also matches the NHL Players Association's discreet response to workplace safety issues." Then, amazingly, he contradicts himself. "The extra curve on the sticks ... likely won't adversely affect player safety, at least in an immediate way."
Can Farber's argument really be that the new stick blades are safe, but are inherently deplorable on safety grounds, simply because the NHLPA and its members approve of them? So it seems. "There are so many other safety issues, including the reluctance to make visors mandatory for players entering the league, the absence of no-touch icing ... and a permissiveness about how loosely chin straps of the helmets can be worn, that the extra quarter-inch on a blade might not scream out as No. 1 on the to-do list," he writes, without explaining how the issue got onto the "to-do list" at all in a total vacuum of data. (The headline writer put them there?)
The one time Farber even approaches the question of how the new stick blades might be a practical safety concern is when he writes, "The perception of the bigger curves might change when a rising shot clips a visor-less defenseman's eye and changes that player's perception permanently." Farber has a long acquaintance with hockey, but I wonder how much one learns
Rule of Safety Sports
Those are just guesses, but unlike Farber, I admit to guessing, instead of inventing phony excuses to damn those responsible for a rule change. It is rare for a sports column to be so senseless and unjust that it can actually be considered evil, but the man has pulled it off. Pointing that out wouldn't be worth the ink on this page, except that in the future, other similarly disposed "reporters" will now be able to write, "Critics have accused the league and the players' union of neglecting safety in adopting new stick guidelines." That's how paranoid and prissy critics change our world, one magazine column at a time.