The National Hockey League increasingly finds itself in a bind regarding on-ice brawls. On the one hand, the league is all lathered up about the ever-increasing frenzy of fisticuffs and ugly hits, not because the NHL is fundamentally against thuggish violence but because some of those players are worth a lot of money, and nothing casts a pall on your investment quite like a coma.
Or worse, years from now, players who have suffered repeated concussions as a result of brutal hits to the head and goonish assaults might sue the NHL for failing to properly protect them and for causing irreparable brain damage that has left them un… um, un… uhh… wait, what were we talking about?
On the other hand, the crowds love the fights, which means the advertisers love the fights, which means the networks love the fights, which means the league love the fights, which means don’t expect fighting players to go anywhere soon – except maybe Outpatients.
What’s needed is some way to satisfy the public’s bloodlust without jeopardizing the players or the league’s bottom line.
Let’s face it: fights are going to happen. It’s just human nature – well, not in any other sport… Let’s start that again…
Let’s face it: fights are going to happen. It’s just hockey nature. If you’re playing the game and an opposing player takes a cheap shot at you before you get the chance to take a cheap shot at him, you’re going to become upset and want to rip out his trachea. It’s perfectly normal. What’s important to remember, though, is that this isn’t just another human being you’re dealing with, someone with feelings, dreams, a family; this is a hockey player. What you need to do is take out all that aggression on someone far less important.
I propose we sacrifice the nerds.
Here’s how it would work: When it appears inevitable that two players are going to come to blows, whether for honour or for ratings, the referee whistles to stop play. The puck-handling pugilists step back, and then, as the crowd roars its approval, from the shadows emerge the nerds.
And then the two opposing players pound the petunias out of them.
Not only will the players risk fewer injuries by pummeling victims smaller and weaker than themselves, but the crowd will be able to delight in two violent skirmishes for the price of one.
“Time out,” you protest. “Won’t that just be quick and ugly?” Possibly. But it’s important to remember that what nerds lack in strength they make up for in prolific bleeding. Plus, the more quickly we get the fights over with the more quickly we can get to back to what’s important – the beer commercials.
Think about it: Nerds fighting. On skates! That’s good clean entertainment. Okay, it’s just good entertainment, but you get the idea.
Naturally, the bleeding-heart liberals will protest that this is degrading to the nerds, not to mention dangerous. (Will the nerds wear padding? To be determined.)
First of all, nerds are used to being degraded. The weak have lived their entire lives being told that they have less value than the brawny and athletic (unless they’re weak and rich). Degradation, humiliation, pulpification – this is what they were bred for, this is their destiny. It’s either this or they become standup comics, and nobody wants that.
Secondly, this is the NHL! The Show! It would be an honour to be beaten up, and a lucrative honour at that. All those Nerds on Ice will receive generous compensation for each thrashing they undergo: $2500 for a head shot, $15,000 for a full-on beating, health insurance covered by the league, and none of those messy fines or mixed-message disciplinary actions for the league to fret about.
Think of it: a chance for a Philosophy major to make some real money for the first time in his life! That’s a win-wince situation. And what with cuts to arts and research funding, there’s bound to be no shortage of nerds looking for work.
Clearly there are details to hammer out. The important thing is that we safeguard the integrity, spirit and bloodthirstiness of the game we hold so dear.