Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, January 07, 2021

fighting words
Congrats to David Singer, HockeyFights.com founder and a frequent visitor to this here blog, on being interviewed by Yahoo! Sports’ Puck Daddy regarding the recent death of amateur hockey player Don Sanderson during an in-game fight.

Fighting in North American hockey is a recurring point of contention within the sport (it’s generally not in the rules in European leagues and prep/college play). So the Sanderson tragedy naturally has become a lightning rod for now-increased calls to have sanctioned fisticuffs banned from the NHL on down.

As you can guess, someone who runs a site called “HockeyFights” isn’t going to fall on the anti-fighting side of the debate. And the broadbased popularity of David’s site attests to the continuing support for five-minute penalty bouts on the ice. That support clashes with overt efforts to eliminate sanctioned fighting within the game, along with the more subtle de-emphasis by the NHL in rule refinements and marketing efforts that avoid mention of this aspect of the game.

Myself, as a fairly hardcore hockey fan? I can live with the status quo, in that I accept fighting as it’s currently codified in the NHL. If it’s popular enough with some of the fanbase that banning it would upset them, then leave things be. That said:

I’m not much of a supporter of fighting, and wouldn’t miss it if it were outlawed today. Hanging onto an activity that’s considered an ejection-worthy penalty in other team sports strikes me as antiquated. And as iffy as it is to judge any sport by the standard of another, I have to note that basketball, football, and other contact sports manage to function without the “outlet” that flying fists supposedly provides. Not to mention that this argument never ends, with re-flares coming at regular intervals — frankly, I’m tired of rehashing this debate when the value of it, for me, diminishes with each round.

The upshot? The situation brings to my mind Thomas Jefferson’s “wolf by the ear” comparative:

“But, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.”

Granted, the slavery issue that Jefferson was struggling over was of considerably more importance than how a sports entertainment league governs itself. But the scenario is comparable: Hockey is confronted with a contentious problem, and whichever course of action taken by its guardians will lead to problematic consequences.

Fighting in hockey is indeed a wolf. Keep it or banish it, the resultant course won’t be easy to deal with. Eventually, the NHL and other leagues will make their choice, and hopefully we can all move on from there.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/07/2021 11:44 AM
Category: Bloggin', History, Hockey, True Crime
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1 Feedback »

    … already made my feelings known on the neverending debate, and will only add this: The proposed penalty for helmet removal during a fight will be one more rules-based indirect deterrent against fighting, same as the instigator rule. So I see the l…..

    Trackback by Population Statistic — 01/25/2009 @ 8:14 PM

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