K.Olé! (Violence in Hockey)

by cschiocchet on September 17, 2013 - 11:16pm

As someone who started to follow hockey only within the last year or so, I was shocked to see that fighting was permitted in the sport. Recently, I went to a hockey game and seeing the fighting up close rattled me. I couldn’t believe that no one was stopping what was happening in front of me. People were punching one another and when I asked why, I was told that it was part of the game. Although it was my first time seeing a game, I didn’t understand why the fight was necessary; it doesn’t put the puck in the net. Hockey in Canada, especially Montreal, is heavily a part of our culture whether we are fans or not. Therefore people can be easily influenced by what happens in the sport.

 

Families with very young children watch these games as it is a part of their lifestyle.Children who idolize these athletes are exposed to violence. This kind of behavior is usually censored in video games and movies from young children. Yet it is regarded as entertainment and acceptable if the violence is on ice. This raises an ethical issue; Is it right to allow violence simply because it is in hockey?

 

Many people claim that fighting within the sport has many advantages. One of these claims is that fighting allows for the game to increase momentum. It allows for the competitive aspect to rise which leads to there being more action and thus having a more entertaining game to watch. Another argument people give to encourage fighting within the sport is that it helps intimidate the opposing team. One team may be at a disadvantage because their players are less skillful but they maintain that intimidation because of their size and their ability to fight. It gives players psychological advantage and allows players to deceive others.

 

I personally believe that though fighting keeps the audience on the edge of their seat more often than not, that it is unnecessary. The purpose of entertainment does not outweigh the consequences that come with physical violence between players. Not only is it a bad influence and shows a negative message, but it also teaches people bad sportsman ship. It should not be allowed to punch someone in the face because they ticked you off. If someone was playing golf and decided to punch their opponent in the face, it would be madness. It would be considered illegal and would by all means not be encouraged or tolerated by the sports association. In addition, as mentioned in my introductory paragraph, fighting does not contribute to the score of the game. Fighting always results in penalties for the players involved. It seems to me that it is more of a setback than an advantage. If fighting is not obliged in the sport and results in penalties, why make it tolerable? People say that it is the way it is because that is the history of hockey. I reject this view as I believe that our society is advanced enough to not allow this kind of violence to be tolerated. If it is not tolerated on the streets, why would the argument of “tradition” be enough to allow violence to occur on skates? There is always room for improvement in anything, and I believe that not tolerating fighting in the NHL will improve the fairness of the game (players will have to rely only on their hockey skill and less on their ability to beat someone up) and it will put a stop to the negative example set by allowing violence.

 

Would banning fighting in hockey be an improvement or is the violence essential to the sport?

 

http://sportsethicist.com/2013/06/07/ethics-of-hockey-fights/

Comments

Your article is a very intriguing one since most people love the fights that happen during a good hockey game. Although you raised some interesting points, I disagree with your opinion on the subject. First of all, fighting in hockey is something that has been going on since the birth of the sport. It is part of the game just like the face off or the goal; that is why there are even penalties made for it. Fighting is a way for the players to let off the steam with whoever they are playing and it is part of the gameplay. These players are old and built enough to support a fight. Like you said, it is true that it sends the wrong image out to children who dream on being in the NHL, but when we look at UFC fighting or boxing, that is all they are doing. Does that mean we will have to start banning these sports as well?

You raise an interesting point. I failed to raise it in my post but it is true that other sports such as UFC and boxing have violence in it as well. However sports such as the previous actually consist of fighting. It is the basis of the sport itself. It is how players acquire points through techniques of hitting. In hockey in order to score, the puck has to get in the net, and I fail to understand how fighting someone to let off steam allows for a point to occur. Because the sport is very physical I understand that the players as you said "let off steam", however in other sports that are just as physical, fighting is not acceptable (i.e. football) even if they are wearing just as much padding and protection. Does the fact that violence in the sport is considered "tradition" justify it to be right or necessary?

So far, in my short life, I have been an off and on again hockey watcher. Watching the Canadiens contend for the playoffs and finally breaking my heart each and every year. I have also seen hundreds of hockey fights and in my opinion they should not be banned from the game. Fighting in hockey is essential to the game due to it's entertainment value and strategic uses. The NHL isn't one of the big 3 sports in the USA market, so it is important that it retains all of its viewers and maybe get more of them by allowing violence; like fighting. Also, fighting builds up momentum which is key to a hockey game. One play can change a whole game and is the difference between winners and losers. The fact is, hockey can be played in many ways. Players can be technical, fast or intimidating. To win, teams need a combination of those to win. On top of that, fighting is way to get another player in line. For example, the player from the other team made a dirty hit. By fighting him, he knows that it isn't right and that he's a "free meal". In the end, violence is part of the game, not only in hockey but in many other sports. This article explains the arguments in favor for violence in hockey. http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/stop-whining-fighting-is-a-crucial-part-o...

Violence has always been part of sports. However, in recent years researches have been made on the effect of this violence on players and even on fans. We are now questioning its true purpose. As a hockey player myself, this article drew my attention and pushed me to reflect on this matter.

To the question, “Would banning fighting in hockey be an improvement or is the violence essential to the sport?”, I would not say that it would be an improvement to the sport but it would certainly be an improvement to its image. By removing fighting from hockey, the “negative” influence that it gives to children would be reduced. It would also reduce the risk of physical and psychological injuries caused by repeated hits to the head that some fighters encounter during and after their career. I would not say it would be an improvement to the sport itself because violence is part of this sport, like it or not. It is part of the “show”. Violence is part of many other sports including rugby, American football, lacrosse, boxing and mixed martial arts. Removing any physical contact in those sports would be the end for them. Why are we keeping violence in sports then, if it as so much negative influences? It is because violence is what brings interest to those sports. Even in Ancient Rome, violence was what brought people together and this tradition still persists today. It is a way of letting go and to release our negative emotions. A proof: American football is the most popular sport in the United States. It generates billions in revenues. Removing violence from sports would also have serious economic impacts.

According to me, removing fights from hockey would not be that much of a case. However, it is impossible to remove any physical contact from this sport. Nowadays, strict rules and laws have been introduced in those sports in order to maximally reduce the potential of injuries without getting out violence from it. We don’t want a person to die performing his sport for sure, but what our society wants is the thirst to win and the competition. I personally think that without violence, some sports would lose their spirit. Our society needs sports.

To continue, I do not agree on the fact that removing fighting would improve the fairness of the game. A player is never in the obligation to fight and can, at any time refuse a fight. Then, the other player would have a penalty and not the one who refused. The finest players can use their skills if they want to score and are not obligated to get into any physical battle. Sports has rules that protect the best players and that give them the opportunity to show their skills already because scoring goals is more important than fighting. Players that fight in hockey are those who decided to fight as in any other sports. I think that is the choice of the individual to accept violence or not and to live with the consequences (a couple of millions per year…).

To sum up, I do not think that encouraging violence in sports is not a good path to follow but I do think that it is essential for the survival of some sports. Some are safer than others and have rules that support violence better. Those include mixed martial arts which promote self-defence and, at the same time, prohibit the use of the fighting techniques outside of the sport. In this case, violence is accepted but has a positive impact on children. On the whole, removing violence from sport will be a difficult task. If we someday do, we will have to have a serious reflection on ourselves and our true needs as a society.

For further reading:
http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-9214/sports.htm
http://news.discovery.com/adventure/violence-sports-football-120307.htm

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