Hockey Stats and Why I Hate Them

Posted: 11/04/2010 by bc in Uncategorized
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Well not all stats, final score of a game is good to know. Perhaps the best way for me to explain my detest for hockey stats is to adapt an insightful quote from Robert F. Kennedy given at the University of Kansas on March 18, 1968.

He was felled by an assassin’s bullet less than 3 months later. His exact words can be found by continuing beyond the break.

Too much and too long we seem to have surrendered the grace and elegance of our game in the mere accumulation of numerical expression. Statistics, if we are to judge our game by that, counts the visual pollution of players mouthing F-bombs and James Wisniewski mime of a sexual act and stretchers to clear our rinks of carnage. Statistics count the minor and major penalties, the suspensions and inherent financial costs. Statistics count man games lost to injury and brilliant careers cut short by concussions. Statistics count stick penalties and produces television programs that glorify the violence in order to sell products to our children. Statistics measure who’s best at what. Yet statistics don’t count the health of our athletes, the quality of these talented people and the joy of their play. Statistics don’t show the electrifying thrill of Teemu Selanne bursting through the neutral zone and foiling a trap or the power of a Ovechkin end to end rush or the integrity of Lady Byng Trophy winner Pavol Demitra or the artistry of Wayne Gretzky. Statistics measure neither our understanding of the game’s geometry, the intelligence witnessed and exhibited in the flow of the game and those who mastered it who give the game both its structure and creativity.  Statistics measure neither our humility or the courage required to know and play the game, neither the wisdom or our learning, neither our compassion or our devotion to hockey. Statistics measure everything in short except that which makes hockey worthwhile. Statistics can tell us everything about hockey except why we are proud, why we revel in our camaraderie and why we share in the sport.

If you’re interested in knowing what RFK was really talking about and a word of advice he left us regarding extremists And this is one of the great tasks of leadership for us, as individuals and citizens this year.  But even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction – purpose and dignity – that afflicts us all.  Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things.  Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.  It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them.  It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.  It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities.  It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.  Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.  It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.  And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

RFK had this to say about extremists, “What is objectionable, what is dangerous, about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.

Like you I heard a lot of blah blah blah this election cycle. This was post cathartic for me. I needed to be reminded, this nation has produced many brilliant statesmen, Democrat and Republican alike.

In doing this I’m also reminded of a backhanded compliment paid me by a hockey bud, “B/C,” he said, “You’re just to intelligent to ever be a great hockey player.”


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