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The War Against Fighting 

Letters published November 2, 2000

Save the fisticuffs for the XFL: Kudos to Pete Kotz for a compelling story on new Lumberjacks enforcer Garrett Burnett ["Tough Guy," October 19]. Kotz did a fine job of describing not only Burnett himself, but also the history and culture of hockey fighters in general.

That said, it is an absolute shame that someone like Garrett Burnett can even find employment in the IHL or any professional hockey league, for that matter. Hockey fights are sad and unnecessary, tarnishing what is otherwise a wonderful game of speed, skill, and utter grit. The true tough guys in hockey are not the ones who drop the gloves, but rather the ones who play through injury and adversity, the ones who deliver (and absorb) clean bodychecks, and the ones who excel despite the antics of Burnett and his ilk.

The worst part, though, is that hockey may never get rid of fighting. For one thing, as Kotz pointed out, there are too many fans who enjoy hockey fights and come to games specifically to see them. Second, as the proponents of fighting are quick to point out, the more you crack down on fighting, the more you'll see dangerous stickwork on the ice. Sad to say, but if you make suspensions mandatory for fighters, players will take out their frustrations with their sticks, and someone will almost surely lose an eye in the process.

The only way hockey will ever change -- if it ever changes -- is to change the glamour and "gladiator" persona that exists around the enforcer. It has to be made clear to hockey players, from the time they first lace up their skates in pee-wee leagues, that fighting is unacceptable and a sure sign that a player lacks skills and self-control. Fighting in hockey has to be exposed for what it is -- an ugly manifestation of pro wrestling-inspired machismo that has no place in a fair athletic contest.

Will I still take my four children to see Lumberjacks games? Yes, most likely. My love for the game -- and my desire to share that passion with them -- is too great for me to stay away from Gund Arena for very long. But I, for one, will reserve my cheers for the players who score the goals . . . not the ones who break noses and knock out teeth.

Scott Tennant
Wickliffe

And in this corner: I really enjoyed your story on Burnett. I was not a big fan of his before the story, but after reading about his struggles and his helping those kids, I gained a lot more respect for the man. As a hockey fan and fight fan, it's sad to see the game going the way it's going. Soon guys like Burnett will be gone, and the game will be taken over by Euros. But I can always put a tape in and remember the good old days. Good luck to Garrett and the 'Jacks this season. Keep fighting.

Darren Tew
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Leanin' green, and spewing Ralph: What a whiny little bitch that Dan Savage is [Savage Love, October 19]! It's pretty humorous watching all these Gore supporters freak out, as the election nears and their man isn't getting the polling numbers they anticipated. A VP from an incumbent administration coming off of eight years of unequaled economic prosperity should be able to defeat a lightweight like G.W. by more than the 5 percent Nader supporters are "siphoning" off of him. And if Gore can't win this election, he and his people have no one to blame but themselves.

But they can't do that, of course. So instead they blame Nader's supporters. Well, many Nader voters would never vote for Gore, and the only reason they're voting is because Nader is on the ballot. They're not switching their votes, they're voting instead of staying home that day. Savage should realize this. And voting for Nader so the Greens can grow as a party is a very worthwhile act. No one is under the illusion that the Greens will be on "equal footing" with the other two parties, if Nader gets his 5 percent and they get matching funds for the next election. But Nader's supporters do understand that this money will give the Greens a louder voice in future politics, which is sorely needed in this country.

Also, it's quite hypocritical to call Nader's supporters "shallow" and list the celebs that support him, when Gore just had his own star-studded spoogefest (hosted by corporate mag pinhead Jann Wenner). All candidates play the celeb game; it's part of every party's politics. How convenient of Savage to rip Nader's celeb endorsements while not mentioning Gore's. Pretty objective journalism.

Maybe Savage should stick to writing about sex. With politics, he's wearing his panic on his sleeve.

Jay Casey
Cleveland

We stand corrected: Scene erroneously reported in "Those Wicked Lawyers" (October 12) that the Ohio Supreme Court overturned a law banning partial-birth abortion procedures. In fact, the 1995 law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in Dayton. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati upheld the lower court's ruling. Scene regrets the error.

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