Forget the violence, the rabid moms, and the stale popcorn. The real scandal plaguing ice hockey is the playing of our National Anthem.
The organization that oversees nearly 200 high-school hockey teams in Pennsylvania is advising that they stop playing the National Anthem at games, citing the high cost of ice time at ice arenas and the time it takes to get a game in the books. According to CBS News, Ed Sam, commissioner of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League (PIHL), sent an e-mail to 183 state high-school teams saying that “the National Anthem should not be played only because of time constrain[t]s.”
Because of the expense of ice time, if a match runs over it may be called, with the score recorded at that point. For that reason, many teams have already yanked the Anthem, seeing the extra three or so minutes the song would take as valuable time that can be tacked on the end of a tight match.
Shenanigans. I’ve been playing in men’s ice hockey leagues for almost 25 years, and I can tell you that no game – not one – ever starts on time. Youth games, high school games, and men’s games all start late because of a multitude of factors; none of which include the National Anthem.
Fights break out, referees are sometimes late, and the ice is rarely resurfaced on time. Guess what? The rinks still get their money, and they never – ever – turn off the lights and lock the doors when a game is supposed to be over. For some reason, the PIHL simply doesn’t want to play the National Anthem. And that’s fine. I just wish they would come out and say that instead of lying to everyone.