The Inseparable Relationship Between Fighting and Hockey

Way back when the Romans ruled the world, the gladiators ruled the sports world. The gladiators shed blood, endured pain, and even died for their sport. Boy did those Romans love watching those gladiators fight to the death.

Today, sports have become much different. Forget about fighting, many sports discourage contact as much as possible.

[caption id="attachment_129" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Jarome Iginla and Vincent Lecavalier go at it during the 2004 Stanley Cup finals"]Iginla and Lecavalier[/caption]

However, in a world of watered-down games that stress not hurting one another, one gladiator remains; hockey. Hockey refuses to conform to the new wave of rules. Hockey follows the same guidelines it set for itself long, long ago.

Those guidelines include one hotly debated subject that many outsiders want to see abolished; fighting. Many argue that fighting is barbaric and has no reason to be a part of the sport.

Well, many hockey fans have a simple rebuttal to that argument; shove it. Removing fighting from hockey would be like banning home runs in baseball or prohibiting turnovers in football. How would that affect those games?

Fighting is such an energy builder in hockey. It can build or derail momentum for a team. The typical hockey game is a defensive struggle between two teams that does not feature a barrage of goals. Dropping the gloves is one of the most common momentum builders in the game.

By taking away fighting, momentum will rely strictly on hits and goals. When a team is playing a flat game, they may have trouble lining up a big hit or potting a goal. However, it may not be quite as difficult to find a dance partner for a fight.

Critics also tend to argue that fighting is a major concern regarding player safety. They believe that players are getting hurt in fights.

Have you ever seen a player get hurt during a fight? If so, how often do you see it? It is actually quite a rare occurrence.

A recent study on US News’ health page examined 710 fights and they found that only 17 participants were injured during them. Not only that, but most of these injuries were quite minor. The same study found that there is only a 0.39% chance of getting a concussion in a fight as compared to the 4.5% chance of concussion when being checked in a game.

Another big problem people have with fighting in hockey is that it allegedly encourages animosity between players. They say that the fighting conjures up sour feelings between players and therefore makes the game more violent.

Well, hockey fights are not typical of normal fights. The two combatants in a hockey fight have great respect for one another. From time to time the two contestants may even shake hands or hug after a fight! Just about everyone who drops the gloves is not looking to beat a guys’ face in.

[caption id="attachment_130" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Fighting helps diminish dirty plays such as the always dangerous boarding hit"]Boarding[/caption]

Plus, fighting allows guys to blow off steam. If a player does take a dirty hit they may be looking for some sort of revenge. The aforementioned study tells us that any dirty hit or play presents a much greater risk of injury than a fight. Therefore, fighting helps keep players level-headed and limits the type of plays that have a high risk of injury.

The biggest sticking point with those against the fighting though is simply that they do not enjoy the violence. They say hockey is violent enough and the fighting is overkill.

In all honesty, there is no persuading those people from that opinion. Hockey is a violent sport, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. If they cannot handle hockey’s violence, then they can choose not to watch it.

That being said, they need to keep their squeaky clean hands off our gritty game. Some people have that gene that likes seeing two guys dropping the gloves. Those people enjoy hockey for what it is. If you lack that gene then there are plenty of other less violent sports to watch.

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