Fighting and violence in hockey is going down, not up

Dave SchultzOne thing that annoys me is when people claims they hate hockey because it is getting more violent every year and there are more fights every year.

With a whole family that plays hockey that bothers me. Because it simply isn’t true. In fact, the opposite is true. The problem is ESPN and HP and Youtube that focus on nothing but hockey fights. When that’s all people see of hockey, they assume that’s all there is. HuffPost is TERRIBLE for doing this!

It really chapped my hide yesterday that I tried to make this point on HP yesterday, but for some reason, HP wouldn’t let me.

Here are the FACTS. In the 1970s, there was an average of more than 1 fight every hockey game (and yes, there actually are people who keep track of this stuff). This year, there is an average of 0.57 fights per game, so there is actually HALF as many fights in hockey today as there was 35 years ago.

A website called hockeyfights.com has actually been tracking fighting in hockey for 10 years. In the 2001-2002 season, there were 803 fights in the NHL, for an average of .65 fights a game. In 2003-2004, there were 789 fights, for an average of .64 fights per game. This year, the league is on pace for 693 fights, a decrease of 12 percent from seven years ago.

Moreover, the all-time single season leader in penalty minutes is Dave Schultz, part of the infamous Broad Street Bullies of Philadelphia. Schultz had 472 penalty minutes in 1974-75, which was really the low point for violence in the NHL. Since the 2000 season, the closest anyone has come to that is Peter Worrell, who had 354 penalty minutes in 2001-2002 … that puts him 21st all-time for most penalty minutes in a season. Last season, the league leader was Zenon Konopka of the New York Islanders, who had 265 penalty minutes, barely half what Dave Schultz accumulated in 1974-75.

Oglethorpe!

What this means is that the era of the goons is fading out. The rules have been changed to give more emphasis on speed and skill. Sure, there’s some tough guys in the league, and the fighting will always play a role (honestly, there is a strategy to it. Don’t touch our stars or else you’ll pay, basically.) There are just more fighting highlights on round-the-clock sports TV and Internet. And because people can’t figure out that “Slap Shot” was satire (not only satire, but 35-year-old satire.). And honestly, if you pay attention, you notice players rarely get hurt fighting. They usually scrap for half a minute, then one of them falls down and a referee steps in and stops it. Most of the time, it’s FUNNY. It’s like slapstick. Most players get hurt when they crash into the boards or they get hit by an errant stick or puck.

Garr. I don’t know why HuffPost wouldn’t let me make this point yesterday.

Smoking bans in New York City, Indiana, Raleigh, Texas

Times Square Billboard

New York City this week banned smoking, well, everywhere.

Smoking is now banned at 1,700 city parks and beaches and in pedestrian plazas like Times Square. Needless to say, this was controversial, and the rhetoric ran hot and heavy over civil liberties, but in the end, the city council passed the ordinance by a vote of 36-12.

Good luck getting 7 million New Yorkers to stamp out their cigarettes in Central Park or Times Square, however. 😆

I know part of where smoking bans on beaches comes from is governments’ frustration with the littering. Whenever beach cleanups are done, the No. 1 item volunteers pick up is tons and tons of cigarette butts. Smokers have no one to blame but themselves, in my opinion, for beach smoking bans. If so many of them weren’t litterbugs, the bans wouldn’t have picked up so much steam.

Indiana
The Indiana House passed a smoking ban, that was watered down somewhat to exclude bars. Indiana is the only state left north of the Mason-Dixon line that has NO smoking ban whatsoever (Pennsylvania has a weak restaurant ban). Indiana is a very Republican state and Republicans tend to loathe new regulations, but this did pass by a 68-31 vote, and smoking bans aren’t quite as partisan as they used to be. This bill, though it is a watered-down ban, has a real chance to pass this year.

Texas
Speaking of Republicans.

This poll, funded by the Robert Wood Foundation, found that 70 percent of people in Texas favour a comprehensive smoking ban, including 67 percent of self-identified Republicans. One thing that bodes well for a smoking ban in Texas is several large cities in that state — Houston, Dallas, Austin, Corpus Christi and El Paso — have comprehensive smoking bans, and gosh, the sky really hasn’t fallen. The Smokefree Texas Coalition is backing a statewide ban; this group includes several national and Texas health organizations, including Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation, which is based in Austin. There are two bills in the Texas Legislature, one sponsored by a Democrat and the other sponsored by a Republican.

Raleigh, North Carolina
Speaking of parks.

The centre of the tobacco world, Raleigh, North Carolina, headquarters to Altria (Philip Morris), just banned smoking in city parks. That’s gotta chap those Altria execs!

Oh, this makes me so angry — Montana GOP trying to eliminate anti-tobacco programs

Excuse my French, but FUCKING REPUBLICANS. FUCK THEM!

Fucking batshit insane Montana Republicans on a budget subcommittee yesterday voted to gut the state’s highly successful anti-tobacco programs. Why? This is a lousy $15 million, a pittance in the state budget, and the programs have been noncontroversial and extremely successful. Why? Because Republicans are FUCKING ASSHATS. Montana’s teen smoking rate has dropped dramatically the last 10 years. Why? This highly successful program is one big reason why.

Like one Democrat said, “It seems to me at this point there are just random acts of cuts, when there is no reason to do this. We heard all the talk the other day about prevention, and what it’s done to prevent problems in Montana. This makes no sense. Here we go again.”

That came from Rep. Trudi Schmidt, D-Great Falls.

I think Republicans are doing this because they see these kinds of programs as nothing but “Nanny State Socialism.” It pisses me off. However, they have no problem with Nanny State Socialist laws telling women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

The one good news is, they can’t cut these funds without screwing with state law. These monies are designated specifically for anti-tobacco programs BY STATE LAW, which means they can’t SIMPLY BE CUT. You have to rewrite law. And we still have a sane Democratic governor with a veto pen.

Phenom Steven Strasburg quitting chew because Tony Gwynn has cancer


Steven Strasburg, collegiate pitching phenom and brief MLB phenom for the Nats (I remember watching this guys debut and literally saying, “Oh, my God” about a half a dozen times. He has some of the most vicious moving pitches I’ve ever seen), announced this week that he is quitting chewing tobacco.

This is an excellent article from the Washington Post, a stridently anti-tobacco newspaper, about Strasburg’s chew habit.

Strasburg said he took up chew in high school because — quell shock — he wanted to emulate Major League ballplayers he was watching on TV. He decided to try and quit chew — and he admitted he is addicted to tobacco — after learning that his college coach at San Diego State, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, is battling a malignant parotid cancer (cancer of the saliva glands. Yuck. Sounds awful.), which he blames on his longstanding chew habit. Gwynn has had several bouts of gland and mouth cancer over the last 15 years.

Smokeless tobacco has been banned in Minor League Baseball, and there is talk of banning it in Major League Baseball (meaning players couldn’t dip while on the field or in the dugout).

Strasburg had a 2.91 ERA and had a staggering 92 strikeouts in only 68 innings. Even though the Nats tried to baby him — 68 innings in 12 starts — he still hurt his elbow, which everyone was afraid of, and required Tommy John surgery last year. I don’t know if he’s expected to pitch in 2011.

Kentucky and Tennessee tobacco growing


Remember I wrote a couple days about about Bowling Green, Kentucky’s, smoking ban? A pair of interesting articles about Kentucky and Tennessee’s relationship with tobacco. Kentucky was 20 years ago the No. 1 tobacco-producing state in the nation. It also has historically been No. 1 or No. 2 in the nation for smoking rates, and it also leads the nation in highest lung cancer rate (76 per 100,000 people each year, versus 52 per 100,000 people in the U.S. as a whole.). In 1990, the tobacco growing industry in Kentucky alone generated $900 million in revenue. By 2009, that figure had dropped to $380 million, less than one-half.

And yet, fewer places in Kentucky are allowing smoking. The two biggest cities — Louisville and Lexington, have banned smoking, and Bowling Green, the third biggest city, joined them last week. Several other cities such as Frankfort and Paducah also ban smoking. I think it’s amazing anywhere in Kentucky bans smoking when tobacco is so entrenched in the state (By comparison, few major cities in Alabama have banned smoking).

In adjacent Tennessee, the bottom has dropped out the cigarette tobacco business, so how have farmers adjusted. Unfortunately, many of them have simply switched to growing chewing tobacco, which is increasing in use (partly because of smoking bans). Instead of switching to corn or wheat, they’re not buying a clue and switching to another deadly, addictive product. That’s a bummer … and disappointing. Acreage in Tennessee and Kentucky devoted to cigarette tobacco has decreased 40 percent in recent years, but acreage devoted to chewing tobacco has increased 22 percent.

C’mon farmers. Plow that shit under. Grow something else. Soybeans. Canola. Dope. Anything. Anything but tobacco.

Bowling Green, heart of tobacco country, going smokefree

Interesting. Last week, Bowling Green, Kentucky, right smack dab in the middle of smoking country went smokefree. Bowling Green is surrounded by tobacco farms. In 1987, tobacco was the No. 1 cash crop in Kentucky. A city surrounded by tobacco farms going smokefree, almost as weird as Virginia (home of RJ Reynolds) and North Carolina (home of Altria) going smokefree.

This story looks at concerns by business owners and the local VFW hall over the new law. But, I love this one quote from an old-timer regular at a Bowling Green bar called the Little Brown Jug. “People will come in,” he said. “This is our home.”

That’s usually what happens. People keep coming in. I know at the diviest of the dive bars in our town, the old-timers still go in to their second home. Their lives haven’t really been affected.

The other funny thing is there is a really aggressive anti-smoking ban zealot who posts all over the Internet (I hadn’t heard anything about this guy for at least 18 months, but then he showed up on some site I posted on a couple of days ago. I then did a quick Google and found out he’s been posting his spam like crazy all over the Internet on any and all smoking ban stories. He’s just obsessed.), who lives near Bowling Green. It’s gotta really chap his hide that the nearest city is smokefree!

Ooops, lawsuit against Nebraska smoking ban didn’t go as planned

Oops. This business owner muffed the punt.

A smoking ban in Nebraska exempted cigar bars, but not pool halls. A pool hall owner filed suit against the state last year and a judge this week ruled that yes, the smoking ban was unconstitutional.

Because it exempted cigar bars. So he struck the part of the bill exempting cigar bars.

I bet cigar bar owners in Nebraska are pretty pissed off right now at the pool hall owner.

Oh, the important thing is, the smoking ban overall was judged to be constitutional.

New study: Wisconsin smoking ban not hurting hospitality industry

A new economic impact study done by the University of Wisconsin looked at the five cities in Wisconsin in light of that state’s year-old smoking ban.

In the five cities — Madison (which had an existing ban), Appleton, Fond du Lac, Marshfield and Eau Claire — the study found an increase in liquor licenses and no drop in employment in the hospitality industry since the ban went into effect. In fact, since the ban went into effect, beer sales in Madison went UP 3 percent, while nationwide, they went down 2-4 percent because of the recession.

What it found is that the number of bars and taverns has decreased slightly since 2004, while full-service restaurants have increased. Employment in bars and taverns decreased slightly, while employment overall has held steady. This may or may not have anything to do with the smoking ban. Meanwhile, this is all while the economy in Wisconsin went into a sharp decline. Quoting the study:

Despite the significant economic recession of 2008, the study found the hospitality industry to be the most economically successful industry in the smoke-free cities.

This kind of confirms something I’ve suspected for some time. Some places might get hurt by smoking bans — small mom and pop taverns that don’t serve food — i.e., neighbourhood bars full of old, reliable customers (also known as dives), while overall the hospitality industry either remains unchanged or actually improves because overall more people decide to go out who otherwise wouldn’t .. because they hate smoke. I will argue until I’m blue in the face, yeah, maybe some people in the short term might lose jobs in these mom and pop taverns, but in the long run, it’s the right thing. And in the long run, is society really worse off by having fewer smoky small dives? I mean, if you’ve ever spent much time in these places, most of them are pretty depressing. They’re like strip mall casinos.

I asked my brother who lives in Wisconsin what the reaction of the state is. He kind of shrugged his shoulders and said, “no one really notices. No one cares.” Confirms my suspicions. Some bar owners rail against bans and a handful of Libertarians and smokers’ rights folks make a fuss, but 90-95 percent JUST LEARN TO LIVE WITH IT!!

Anyway, this study is very similar to literally hundreds of other economic impact studies done, but it won’t quiet the critics. No number of studies will. It’s like global warming deniers. I can hear the chorus of “lies, all lies” at the Smokers’ Club website as I type.

Here is the direct link to the study.

American Lung Association: You all FAIL!!!

And you!

And you!

And you, too!

And you, three!!

The American Lung Association came out with its annual “State of Tobacco Control” report this week, and not surprisingly, pretty much every state got failing grades. In fact, Montana was only one of five states in the entire nation that got “passing grades” from the American Lung Association (The other four were Arkansas, Maine, Vermont and Oklahoma — Vermont and Maine are among the top states every year, but Arkansas and Oklahoma are a bit of a surprise).

The ALA grades in four categories — Anti-tobacco program spending, smokefree air, cigarette tax and cessation programs. Most states get Fs for program spending because most states do not spend nearly the amount of money on anti-tobacco programs as was recommended many years ago by the Centers for Disease Control after the 1998 settlement agreement between the states and the tobacco industry. The eight worst states (mostly in the South) were S. Carolina, N. Carolina, Alabama, West Virginia, Missouri, Virginia, Kentucky and Mississippi. Two other states got three Fs and one D — Indiana and Texas. Most of these states have high smoking rates. (Strange that N. Carolina got an F for smokefree air because they have a pretty strong smoking ban in that state. Like I said, the ALA is harsh.).

Montana got Cs for anti-tobacco spending, cigarette tax and cessation programs. The ALA believes cigarette taxes should be at least $2 a pack, and Montana’s is $1.70, which is roughly around the national average. Montana does have a couple of really nice ad campaigns funded by the state (with the hard core Republican legislature in session this year, it will be interesting to see if the funding continues.) One is called reactmt, which targets teens and the other campaign Tobacco Free Montana, targets adults. Both are good, solid campaigns, but I fear they may be on the chopping block.

If you’re curious, click here to see how your state is doing.

Smokeless tobacco … without the tobacco


Interesting, a rodeo rider from Whitehall, Montana, has invented a kind of snuff that uses alfalfa and peppermint rather than any tobacco products. He eventually developed cancerous lesions in the mouth and lymphoma.

Now cancer-free and with his jawbone luckily still intact, Dave Holt, working with the University of Nebraska, has invented this tobacco-free snuff that he says is as tasty as the real deal. Holt claims his concotion also makes a nice tea and helps ward off colds (Well, we’ll take his word for it, the big thing is, it isn’t CARCINOGENIC.). The family is producing 600 cans a day of their product and are ready to start making more as demand for more tobacco-free products grows.

Here’s wishing them well. I’ll help give them a bit of free advertising. Here is their website:

http://www.worldsgreatestchew.com