Since the early 1900’s when hockey was first popularized in Canada the game has always contained the physical aspect of fighting. Fighting as a part of the sport, has been there for so long and would lead some to believe it is tradition, and to remove fighting would be changing a fundamental part of the sport. The real question: Is fighting in hockey mandatory to maintain the sport or is fighting purely for entertainments sake?
Throughout the years of watching many hockey games for me fighting has become a part of how the game is meant to be played. The NHL has rules that help those players who want to fight making it legal in the professional sport. The fights in hockey can be viewed as fundamental to a team’s strategy during game play. To intimidate players would be to use fighting as a tactic to scare the other team into not wanting to fight based on the players willing to fight on their team’s behalf. Disallowing fighting in the sport would change the structure of the teams as we know it, teams would evolve to have smaller faster players with very few players used as goons. It can be argued that the players used as goons are there purely to add excitement, but on the other side of the argument they could be used as key strategy players when the time is right to change the dynamic of a game.
The allowance of fighting is also thought to reduce the amount of violent outbursts and illegal contact within the sport. For example, a friend of mine played on a rep hockey team in high school, she was in her last season before leaving for university. In girls hockey it is a rule there is no fighting allowed, but my friend disregarded the rules in her last game to go after a girl she disliked throughout her hockey career. Both girls willingly fought each other and both got kicked out of their last game. Arguably this could have been avoided if fighting or even minor contact were allowed, the two girls would not have had to take illegal jabs at each other all game until finally they snapped and fought against what the rules had stated. Fighting in hockey would allow an outlet for aggression and could still be maintained in the rules potentially decreasing the risk of more serious injury due to a blow out of illegal conduct.
There are negatives to fighting in hockey an in the NHL due to a number of injuries to players. “Concussions and head injuries are under the microscope and the NHL has taken steps in an effort to lower the number of head injuries. An increase in penalties, the famous rule 48, and stiffer suspensions for violent hits to the head have been the biggest changes that the NHL has implemented” (SportsMedBC). There has been a number of head injuries in the past few years in the NHL leading to stricter fighting and hitting rules to be put in place. The severity of head trauma in hockey hits is a reason to cut down on fighting, hitting and hockey violence over all. One of the most well know series of concussion had come to Sidney Crosby whom has spoken out about his experiences with concussions. “When you get a typical injury you’re given a time frame, you’re gradually working towards getting back,” Crosby said. “With concussions there is not generally a time frame or a span where you’re feeling better. You feel like you’re getting better and it can be one day and you’re back to where you started. It’s a frustrating injury and one that anyone has gone through can relate”, (The Globe and Mail). Hockey is a dangerous physical sport with a risk for injury, the fighting increases the risk. Fighting in hockey could be a reason to make changes to make the game safer for all players.
Fighting in hockey could also be used as it is intended to protect; players can protect their teammates including the star players and the goalies. During a fight in hockey games the crowd is fully engaged it is an exciting time and it allows for a chance to potentially change the outcome of the game. A fight has the ability to change the mood of the spectators and potentially the momentum of the team. It can change the whole dynamic of a game giving one team a competitive edge they may not have had without a fight. Although fighting is exciting the use of fighting to create a balance between the teams and potentially as a tactic to try and get the other team a penalty is a positive use of fighting just as long as it stays safely within the rules of the sport.
Hockey without fighting is not really hockey at all, there may be some serious injuries occurring to players and some of the rules may need to be rewritten to make fighting more restricted; but taking fighting out of the sport entirely would change the whole sport into something it has never been before. Fighting is entertaining, but more than that fighting is necessary to the fundamentals of game play, it can be used for strategy, intimidation, balance, and changing up the game allowing a player or fan to get the most out of a game. Fighting in hockey is not just entertaining it is practical in game play.
- Kennedy, Ryan. “Fighting in the NHL: Should it stay or go?” The Hockey News. N.p., 18 Jan. 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. http://www.thehockeynews.com/blog/fighting-in-the-nhl-should-it-stay-or-go/
- Buccigross, John. “The pros and cons of fighting in the NHL.” ESPN. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/columns/story?columnist=buccigross_john&id=2724254 .
- “Fighting in the NHL.” SportMedBC. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. https://sportmedbc.com/news/fighting-nhl .
- Hargreaves, Josh. “Crosby discusses lengthy recovery road from concussions, safety of the game.”
- The Globe and Mail. N.p., 5 Sept. 2013. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/crosby-discusses-lengthy-recovery-road-from-concussions-safety-of-the-game/article14118504/