Hockey has its traditions. Throwing hats after a hat trick. Tapping a goalie’s pads before a game. Fighting. But there’s one tradition that is going to end in Stephenville, says the commissioner of the Stephenville Dome in Stephenville, Newfoundland: post-game drinking and driving.
According to news reports Bob Byrnes, the chair of the Stephenville Gardens Commission, found hundreds of empty beer bottles left over from celebrations after games. Byrnes is worried that post-game drinking is followed by driving. The arena has therefore imposed a ban on locker-room drinking.
One would think that everyone would be on board with any attempt to discourage impaired driving. But hockey leagues and other user groups reportedly resisted the ban on booze, which apparently has the status of a tradition after games. The fact that it is incredibly dangerous does not carry much weight with some users.
In fact, the problem is probably part of a larger one involving drinking culture. A 2012 study found that Newfoundland and Labrador consume more alcohol per capita than other Canadians, and are likely to drink to the point of health risk. This tendency has led to Eastern Health’s Rethink that Drink campaign, which hopes to curb NL’s culture of overconsumption.
As well as a poor handle on drinking, Newfoundland and Labrador are struggling with how to handle drunk drivers. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada gave the province a depressing grade of F+ for its efforts. Among the improvements needed to be made, the organization claims, are vehicle impoundment for a first offense, a 3-year look-back period for repeat offenses, and an ignition interlock (car breathalyzer) requirement which must be completed before relicensing.
Laws can be fixed. Cultural habits take longer, but the management of the Stephenville Dome is on the right track. A good game is worth celebrating, but drunk driving should play no part in the festivities.