Sunday, February 2, 2014

Why Is Everyone Clapping?

If you want to skip all this and go straight to the awesome update at the end of the post you can click here.



Some people will say,  "You're overreacting."

Some people will say, "It's part of the game."

Some people will say, "It's all in good fun." 

I will tell every one of them that they're wrong.

As some long-time readers of this blog will know I suffered my fourth severe concussion a few years ago (to add on to the pile of other "less severe" head injuries, you know, the ones where I didn't get knocked completely unconscious). I was off work for several months and it took me more than six months to get back to a level of function comparable to what I had before the accident. 

As my friends know I am against the idea of fighting in hockey at any level and whenever I take one of my kids to a Kitchener Rangers hockey game and a fight breaks out on the ice it makes by blood boil. There is absolutely no place for fighting in hockey, let alone junior hockey, where a vast number of the players are under the age of 18. 

So, I guess what you are about to read is the inevitable reaction of a father and hockey fan who has finally had enough with the glorification of two athletes assaulting each other in front of thousands of adoring fans.

You could say the moment I snapped was one Saturday morning when I heard a promotion on 105.3 Kool FM for a contest they were running in association with the Kitchener Rangers and sponsored by Forbes Automotive. It's a good promotion and I considered entering the contest... right up until I heard the line, "the hits... the fights..."

I wasn't actually sure I had heard it correctly so I just filed it away until the next time it was aired. Sure enough, the next time I was listening and they played the promo I heard the line again, "the hits... the fights..." Suffice it to say I was nothing short of shocked. Were they actually promoting hockey fights? Were they actually promoting fights that involve kids under the age of 18?

First order of business: Twitter and Facebook in hopes I would get some reply. To date I have received none, and having heard the promotional spot countless times since it has come to this. I have resorted to the most extreme measure that an irate Canadian can possibly use.

I have written a letter.



To: 
Jay Nijhuis, Promotions and Marketing Manager, 105.3 Kool FM
Murrary Hiebert, General Manager, Kitchener Rangers 

Cc:

Jason Stainton, General Manager, Forbes Waterloo Mazda (sponsor)
David E. Branch, Commissioner, Ontario Hockey League  
Letters to the Editor, The Kitchener Record
Brain Injury Association of Canada

Subject:

Fight Club

Mr. Nijhuis and Mr. Hiebert,


I am writing to request the recent Kitchener Rangers "KooLest Seats in the House" radio promotion be taken out of advertising rotation immediately, or at a minimum, the voice over changed to something more appropriate. 

The rationale for this request is quite simple. I believe the wording promotes violence, specifically violence by, and toward, teenagers.  

I am an avid listener of 105.3 Kool FM and I attend anywhere between 8 and 10 Kitchener Rangers hockey games each season and I take my 11 year old daughter or my 7 year old son to most of the games. Now, it is possible that my previous experiences with concussions have made me more sensitive to the issues of head trauma in hockey (I've had at least 4 concussions) but I don't think I'm out of line in admonishing Kool FM and the Kitchener Rangers for airing a promotion that highlights the fights that we can look forward to the next time we attend a hockey game.

The last two games I attended with my children there were fights in first five minutes of the game. On the one occasion my son, who is just starting to understand some of the rules, asked me why everyone was clapping after the fight. On the other occasion my daughter had to look away because the sight of two teenage boys punching each other in the face upset her (as it should, would you not agree?) 

Let's not forget that these hockey players are also kids! In case you haven't counted there are currently 12 players on the Kitchener Rangers roster that are under the age of 18. I'm left to wonder how it is you can justify promoting fights between underage hockey players? 

An even better question: 
How do you think the parents of the younger players feel about you encouraging the public to come out and pay to see their 16 year old's get into a fight and risk their future as hockey players as well as possible brain injuries?

Suffice it to say that, at best, the promotion as it currently stands highlights a terrible error in judgement by the marketing and promotions staff involved. At its worst it is a call for people to not just witness, but enjoy, teenage violence that doesn't belong - on or off the ice.

The promotion could have easily been worded, "The hits... the goals..." instead of "The hits... the fights..." and as such I ask that you re-think the words chosen for this promotion or pull it from the radio outright. 

I further encourage everyone involved to issue an on-air apology to the players and fans and make a donation to the Brain Injury Association of Canada or other applicable not-for-profit organization. 


Respectfully,

Andrew F. Butters


Update!

Within a couple hours of sending my email and posting this I have received several emails from Kool FM and the Kitchener Rangers!

First, Kool FM informs me the script would be revisited tomorrow:

Click image to read

Then, I received an email from the COO of the Kitchener Rangers indicating he would be following up tomorrow as well, and reiterating his commitment, and the commitment of the OHL and CHL to reducing fighting in their games:

Click image to read

Finally, I received an email from the Program Director at Kool FM (after I replied to their original reply) informing me that neither Forbes Automotive nor the Kitchener Rangers were involved in the wording and approval of the script (good on Kool for owning up!) and that it has been re-written and will be re-voiced and produced on Monday:

Click image to read

If all this isn't a whole pile of win I don't know what is. Naturally, there are a few douchecanoes over at Reddit /r/hockey that are downvoting the link to this post but what's a guy to do? One step at a time.

~ Andrew

4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. It sure is, Greg. I'm very pleased that my concern was deemed valid and is being addressed. What's bothersome though is to this point I appeared to have been the only one who noticed (or thought to say something). How many people heard that radio spot? Tens of thousands for sure, and that makes me a little sad.

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  2. Awesome indeed, Andrew! Thank you for stepping out and showing concern for your kids first, the players taking / giving the hits who are being coached in violence, and the integrity of the game of hockey itself. Brain injuries are no laughing matter. Your letter got to the heart of the matter and to the hearts and minds of the people involved in making and promoting the ad. What a superb role model you are to all those who watched and remained silent.... and especially to your kids.

    ~ Meredith Ottoson, SK

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading, Meredith, thank you even more for taking the time to leave a comment, and thank you for your kind words.

      My last concussion was a real wake up call and took it's toll not just on me, but also on my whole family. Brain trauma affects more than just the person with the head injury!

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