The Price of Winning

We love winners. We even applaud the sacrifices that make wins possible.  The baseball player who finishes the inning with a broken leg; the hockey player who returns to the ice after a shot of freezing; the gymnast who goes back to the mat after a wrenching revelation of abuse.

The outpouring of outrage over the treatment of former NHL player Corey Beach by the Chicago Blackhawk’s in 2010 last week is justified, but before we get too high on our horses, we should give it a bit more thought.

We often hear that sports teaches kids life lessons, but what exactly are they teaching?  Two of the most impressive coaches who have sat on the benches in Millbrook Minor Hockey from days gone past (many days) are Mark Bannerman and Shawn Partridge.  They demonstrated a love for the game and a respect for their players, win or lose.  Both coached house league teams in the 1990’s.  Some may say there’s a big difference in expectations between competitive teams and recreational teams, which is true.  I imagine that’s the gist of the argument the former Blackhawk management would offer in the face of Corey Beach’s accusations last week.  They buried the complaint and won the Stanley Cup.  They might even say they did their job: they won.

Imagine if they had done the opposite and addressed the allegation and jeopardized their Stanley Cup run.  Would the applause for that action be as loud?  I doubt it.

We are among those who are applauding.  Our society may not embrace a “win at all costs” philosophy, but the line between what is acceptable and not is blurry at best.   There is an opportunity to clarify that line at the moment.  Where will the new line be drawn?   It’s up to us to decide.  KG

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