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Critical Review Essay On Violently Happy

Why the NHL Needs to Make Hockey Safe Again for Those Who Appreciate Bloodshed

In an incident that occurred between the teams Vancouver Canucks and the Colorado Avalanche, Moore was severely injured by Bertuzzi during an NHL game.  In the aftermath of this unfortunate event, Bertuzzi received a one-year ban from the NHL. Many including the author opposed this decision and were of the view that Bertuzzi deserved a lifetime suspension from NHL. The author highlights that violence is what keeps many people (especially those who love fighting) interested in sports. Be it NHL, NFL, or NASCAR, no sport would be interesting unless there is a looming possibility for a fatal blow. However, the difference between NHL and NFL & NASCAR is that NHL has failed to properly demarcate the boundary after which violence becomes unacceptable. According to the author, NFL and NASCAR have understood that violence is acceptable within limits and people start to oppose it when it poses real-life consequences. The people like the idea of violence more than the occurrence of actual brutality.

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Wherry has sternly criticized Bertuzzi for not receiving a lifetime banishment from NHL after inflicting a severe head injury to Moore in an NHL game. The author disapproved of NHL’s decision that punished Bertuzzi with a 1-year ban from participating in NHL games. To simply put, Wherry wants that the NFL must ban Bertuzzi for his entire life from playing in NFL. Doing so can do more harm than good. In criminology, there is a theory called “Labelling theory” according to which people behave to manifest others’ views of them (Glickman). Therefore, if a person is labelled as a thief, even after he/she has completed imprisonment and received counselling, it is highly probable that he/she will continue to act as a thief because people expect no better from him/her. Punishing Bertuzzi with lifetime banishment might not be a good idea. Wherry did not mention the fact that Bertuzzi had apologized to Moore many times publicly. Additionally, he received heavy fines and his family also greatly suffered financially and mentally during that 1-year penalty. As humans, no one is free of faults. The important thing is that a person must be strong enough to acknowledge his mistakes. The idea behind punishment is to make a wrongdoer realize that his/her actions are criminal and hurtful to others. Bertuzzi had realized that his act was ignoble and violent. Allowing him back into NHL would not only make him more cautious while dealing with opponent players but also would constantly remind him that any unnecessary violence can destroy his career and stress his family.

Wherry has pointed out that football and car-racing sports are more popular and have dominated the US market since 1994 because there is an explicit possibility that an unpredictable gruesome incident can occur. In this respect, the author has criticized NASCAR and NFL games as characterized by an innate zest for physical harm. NASCAR is popular for reporting deaths during car-racing events while NFL is known for bodily injuries. The author has employed a vague argument to defend her views against NHL. She asserts that compared to NHL, NFL and NASCAR are more violent and dangerous but NHL is unable to deal properly with the little violence that it faces. The author has used language loaded with fallacies and without any concrete evidence when defending NFL and NASCAR. The sentences like “NFL has done everything” and for NASCAR “deaths do occur” make it a hypocritical statement.  Without quoting any reliable references and policies, the author has tried to prove that NFL and NASCAR are more efficient in dealing with violence than NHL.

The author has quite a bone to pick with Bertuzzi and wants him to be banished for a lifetime. To support her arguments, she perceives that had it been NFL or NASCAR, they would have banned Bertuzzi for good. The truth is, even NFL would not charge Bertuzzi with a lifetime suspension. This is because, as of 2019, NFL policy is to ban the first-time violators for six games without salary and a lifetime suspension if a player is involved in acts of violence for the second time (Stevenson 48). Being a first-time offender, Bertuzzi does not deserve a lifetime suspension. In contradiction to the author’s views, even NFL and NASCAR would not have supported it according to their policies of dealing with player violence.

People have different opinions on which game is more dangerous and violent. Wherry noted that NASCAR and football games are more threatening. However, her claims lack evidence from any reliable sources. A study revealed that NFL and NHL fans demonstrate a greater hatred towards their rivals than any other sports team fans (Cobbs et al.). This shows that possibility of violence is equally likely in both games. Additionally, the author has only mentioned violence during games which accounts for a biased argument. Other forms of violence can make certain games more dangerous than others. It is found that NFL players are most likely to be convicted for domestic violence compared to players of any other game. Between 2012-2014, 33 NFL players were charged with offences which included domestic violence, murder, and assault (Stevenson 47). Additionally, NFL players often hold a pre-game party outside the stadium and get drunk against the NFL policies (Stevenson 79). Contrary to the author’s stance, one might deduce that NFL has not done enough to prevent violence and that it needs to address the loopholes in policy implementation.

Violence is only acceptable in fiction and not in reality. NASCAR and NFL have understood this fact which NHL has failed to grasp. According to Wherry, when violence crosses a certain limit, NASCAR and NFL have stringent measures and policies in place to stop violence from going too far. But NHL has failed to recognize the distinct difference between fictional and real violence. The author is of the view that people only like the idea and the looming risk of violence but not the real fight. This is contrary to what one can witness in the current episode of escalation between Russia-Ukraine. The United States openly supporting Ukraine with arms and ammunition is witness to the fact that people like violence in reality. This further indicates that people are only opposed to violence if it is directly harming them and their people. Iraq war did not wound people in the United States, France, Germany or Russia so they were least bothered while carrying out this violence. However, it did bother people who were the residents of the war-hit region. Thus, one can conclude that violence seems enjoyable only if it is hurting others. It seems ignoble as soon as we or our loved ones are the victims of that violence. The statements by Wherry “let the blood flow but within limits” and “violence is the answer” indicates that she is indeed advocating for violence while opposing it at the same time.

The article Violently Happy: Why the NHL Needs to Make Hockey Safe Again for Those Who Appreciate Bloodshed written by Arron Wherry emphasized the need to make hockey safe again by promoting monitored violence. It highlighted that controlled violence which results in a little injury is acceptable because it keeps people interested in sports. Wherry was fixated on defending her argument of Bertuzzi’s lifetime suspension from the NHL.  Therefore, the author at many places used vague and loaded language without any authentic references. Additionally, the arguments supporting NASCAR and NFL were biased and without reliable sources that could support the argument. The article at the same time opposed and advocated violence. This leaves many readers confused regarding Wherry’s stance on violence. However, Wherry has rightly pointed out that there must be a clear boundary in all sports after which violence is unacceptable and must result in a hefty penalty.

Works Cited

Glickman, Maurice. “Labelling Theory.” Social Problems and Mental Health. Routledge, 2022. 91-93.

Stevenson, Tyler. Violence and Sports: Dangerous Games. Greenhaven Publishing LLC, 2019.

Cobbs, Joe, B. Daniel Sparks, and B. David Tyler. “Comparing rivalry effects across professional sports: National Football League fans exhibit most animosity.” Sport Marketing Quarterly 26.4 (2017): 235-246.