Most of you have heard or maybe even know more deeply about hockey players who have been partying before and after the games so much that they could hardly manage themselves. Or have been trashing hotels, restaurants or whatever has come in their way.
So have I also, too many times sadly and I don’t think it is cool at all.
And, I haven’t heard only about hockey players, but certainly also about renowned football players who have smelled like a brewery when they entered the pitch and had difficulties hitting the ball.
Probably this has also been a thing that has been seen as normal in many other sports, or where there has been no reflection at all about the use of alcohol and the conduct that follows.
When the former player Jere Karalahti pretty much brags for the Finnish media Ilta-Sanomat, the link to the article https://www.is.fi/mmkiekko/art-2000005397544.html, about how he and some others during the World championship in St. Petersburg painted the town red and drank all the time, I don’t know what to believe anymore.
My first spontaneous thought was that he and those who drank ruined the Finnish chances totally to achieve a possible gold medal.
Finland won the bronze medal after all, after defeating Canada, but that’s not the point that they did achieve a medal.
My following thought:
>>>How the hell was it possible at that time when most players were full-professional, not amateurs, that they could keep drinking that much during a significant tournament?
The head coach Hannu Aravirta had to lie to the media about why Jere Karalahti was out of the games, but in the article, he reveals that the main cause was that he had partied.
When team Finland went home from St. Petersburg by bus, Jere Karalahti said that he bought Vodka and beer for him and his teammates, and they all basically trashed the bus totally.
First of all, we are all grown-ups and can make our own choices, but Jere Karalahti’s choice to drink and celebrate during the whole tournament was nothing else but a pure childish act.
No thought about the team at all, not for a second, or the goals the team aimed for, only an act of self-interest.
I did some asking around a year ago among eminent hockey writers about what they have heard about nowadays when I wrote about Marko Jantunen https://sportsrants.com/nhl-hockey/deep-talk-young-prospects-drugs/ but all the answers I got were that they haven’t heard anything basically about the use of alcohol or drugs.
But, we shall not be too naïve either and think that this issue doesn’t exist.
Another thought that followed after reading, beyond the little eureka moment that occurred in my mind about why Finland didn’t achieve a gold that St. Petersburg tournament:
How can we really trust that the players are sober enough to give themselves and the fans justice on the ice without thinking that they might, after all, be drunk or at least be suffering from a harsh hangover?
Especially when a team that was supposed to be a bit better has big issues to beat the other team.
Moreover, it is weak leadership as well to not be able to make clear the rules of how to behave during a tournament, and it is definitely immature by the players if they can’t stay away from drinking during 2-3 weeks.
And, if they just can’t do that, then they have actually far bigger issues than just losing the games because they were drunk, and should call for aid before it is too late.
In general, I think that this is a subject that we have to bring to the light as often as possible, because we apparently have problems with alcohol and drugs in the society as a whole, and hockey players or any other athletes are unfortunately no exceptions from that problem as we’ve seen.
However, we all must be brave enough to take the step and talk about this, even for those who don’t want to hear or/and discount it as “nothing”, “boys will be boys”, “blah, blah, blah”.
I have now come to the end of the road with this text, but I end with a great quotation from a music star most of us know very well, that might describe Karalahti and many other players who do not care a bit about their teammates because they choose to drink instead before and after the games:
There’s not an alcoholic in the world who wants to be told what to do. Alcoholics are sometimes described as egomaniacs with inferiority complexes. Or, to be cruder, a piece of shit that the universe revolves around.
Another source from the Finnish Media where the coach Aravirta confess that the alcohol had a too big role in the tournament in St. Petersburg 2000. The source is in Finnish, therefore I recommend you to use the rough google translation