Fighting and Hockey (also posted on Danny’s blog)

29 01 2009

One of the most persistent debates about the NHL and hockey in general is the role of fighting in the game. For many, it is hard to understand not just how a sport can condone violence but how central it is to the game.  These concerns are only compounded by the incidents that have plagued the game in recent years. While very few of these were related to fighting, these incidents only affirm the beliefs of many people.

I tend to hate the argument that because something has always been done one way, that it should continue to be done that way.  But, I’m going to do it anyways. Fighting is a part of the tradition and history of hockey. There is a code of honor, a degree of ethics that exists between all those who choose to fight in hockey and it is based on mutual respect.

– It is very rare to see someone in a fight that clearly doesn’t belong.
– You don’t grab a guy from behind.
– A fight requires two willing participants
– You won’t see sucker punches or anything like that.
– If one person won’t fight, that’s the end of it.
– When a player hits the ice, the fight is over.
– Most of the time, these are fights to protect players who can’t fight for themselves.

There are a number of pros and cons to the existence of fighting in the NHL. I have seen the excitement that a fight can put in an arena and in a team, the feeling can only be described as electric. But I will say that a big hit can achieve the same effect. Some people have argued that fighting is such a turn off that it keeps people away from the game.  That maybe true for some, but I would argue that there are many fans that go to games purely for the spectacle of the fights, this is especially true in the minor leagues. Now whether or not that is a good sign for the state of the game that’s a whole other issue.

Would I still watch hockey if fighting wasn’t a part of the game? Definitely.  But, there is something absolutely thrilling about watching a fight in a hockey game.  Maybe that is the savage caveman in me shining through.

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