Yesterday night the Sabres and the Coyotes, the two worst teams in the NHL, played one another in Buffalo. At stake? The worst record in the league which means picking either first or second (per the NHL’s lottery system) and getting one of the two once-in-a-lifetime talents available this year. Sabres fans in the home crowd, well aware of this, cheered the opposing team’s goals including the eventual game winner by the Coyotes. Yes, home fans cheered for their opponent.
In a sport that routinely lets woman beaters and (alleged) rapists see the ice with little to no recourse this is, of course, the highest of injustices. It is an affront to the integrity of the great sport of hockey and media outlets have been falling all over themselves to suggest reworking the draft system which rewards this sort of moral bankruptcy. The prevailing system within the league and within individual teams that marginalizes or dehumanizes various groups of people and gives the Colorado Avalance and Nasville Predators carte blanche to allow a woman beater and a (alleged) rapist to walk through their halls because they might be innocent and it’s better to err on not suspending a guy who might be innocent than protecting the safety of your other employees and their families I guess….
That system? That system can apparently continue on without thousand word thinkpieces on how to fucking fix it.
But the result of tanking affects fans personally because it affects their team, and the transgressions of Varlamov and Ribeiro only affect faceless women to which almost no NHL fans have any personal connection. Also the former problem has easy fixes, and the latter has complicated ones and we, as sports fans, are nothing if not simple and lazy. That’s why we’re the ones on the couches after all.