Fighting in Hockey: Yay or Nay

by Rusty on November 3, 2014 - 8:42pm

Hockey is commonly known as the most popular sport in Canada. Hockey has had controversial moments in the past pertaining to violence but the most predominant in this day and age is hockey fights. Hockey is one of, if not the only sport which is not centered around fighting that “allows” fighting during the game. Hockey rules do of course punish fighting, but not nearly as severely as other sports do. The punishment for fighting in most major hockey leagues is a mere five minutes in the penalty box, with no other repercussions to the perpetrators or their teams. Comparing this punishment to that for fighting in a sport like soccer which  would result in a red card for both players , immediate expulsion from the game, and likely additional discipline. There are two sides of the argument for fighting in hockey, one who believes hockey fights should be abolished, and one who suggests hockey fight have become part of the game and therefore should remain in the game. To decipher this issue, we must dive deep past the physical aspect of the game and dwell into the territory of gender. The sport of hockey is predominantly played by men, and in professional leagues, usually extremely fit men. There are many reasons players fight in leagues such as the NHL. Some reasons such as to get back at someone who attempted to injure a player or one of his teammates, to send a message of the protection of the goalie or another important player, or to spark a team. Finally, there is pure intimidation, which is where enforcers step in. Enforcers are everything the sport of hockey is trying to avoid. They fight because it is quite literally their job. They are brought into the league for the sole reason of violence towards others and projecting their masculinity to intimidate opponents. Enforcers have become predators, often hunting skilled players and then fighting the other team’s enforcer to show which is more dominant.  This is the kind of fighting that has tarnished the sport of hockey. Recently, there have been a large decrease in enforcers and bruisers in the NHL, to the point where some teams have bought off contracts of enforcers to reinstate more skilled players into their ranks. This is a huge step in the right direction, but more should be done to ensure that fights in the NHL and other hockey leagues are to break out only where they are suppose to (in the sport of hockey), to protect yourself or a teammate or spark a team. There should be no more predators trying to end careers of the most skilled players in the world. The NHL and other organizations must take steps to stiffen the fighting allowed in games as well as increase punishments to the point where fighting is something done in a last resort. To conclude, I do believe that fighting has a place in hockey and that it should remain in certain circumstances, but bruisers and instigators should not have a place amongst the ranks of the best hockey players in the world.

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