I’ve been rebuked by hockey fans for taking this position before, but hockey fights are stupid and unnecessary. I listened to enough sports talk radio with fans and hosts frothing at the mouth delighted that the Bruins and Canadiens embarrassed themselves by accumulating nearly 200 penalty minutes. Seven fights in all. Seven complete wastes of time. Two days later, the Islanders and Penguins doubled the output with 15 fights and 346 penalty minutes. Only in hockey does “donnybrook” become a term of endearment. Those on-ice riots would be properly identified as brawls in any other sport, and we’d be appalled by them. Why is hockey so different?
Well, proponents have come up with exactly two reasons to keep fighting in hockey. First, without it there would be more cheap head shots and stick penalties, and players would be at greater risk for injury. To paraphrase; if the morons doing the punching don’t get to punch, they’ll use their weapons to slash and poke and cut their opponents. Um, excuse me, couldn’t you just tell them not to do that? Call it a brotherhood or a code, or just make the penalties so severe they wouldn’t want to do it.
And the other reason to allow fighting is summed up by former Bruin Joe Thornton who said: “Fighting’s been around since Day 1. I think it would be a shame to take it out of the game. It’s part of hockey, like tying up your laces or shooting the puck. It’s been part of hockey for a long, long time.”
Ah, tradition! Love that one. Wonder if that’s what the pro-slavery folks were saying. Note to Big Joe, hockey goons and salivating fans – just because something’s been done for a long time doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. Look to the Middle East, or ask a woman who can now vote. They’ve come a long way, baby. Hockey should, too.
I look forward to another onslaught of emails from arrogant, though misguided, so-called purists who will patronize me with the likes of: “if you ever played the game”, or “you just don’t understand”. They’ll tell me the fights are a self-policing part of the game, and that a lot goes on during a game that leads to justifiable fighting. And I’ll think, a lot goes on in basketball, too. Elbows under the boards. Let’em duke it out on the court. There are a lot of one-sided violent hits in football, too. How’s a wide receiver supposed to deter a defender from taking him out over the middle if he can’t stand up and go toe-to-toe for a while?
Hockey fans, you’re game’s not so special. Oh, unless you consider it “special” when something like a 21-year-old kid dies in a game when his head hits the ice during a fight. Look up Don Sanderson and then write me some more condescending emails.