Sunday, February 8, 2009

Toothless Gentlemen

If you’ve ever heard the quote, “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out”, then you know where this is coming from.

As the cry for a ban on fighting in the NHL circulates the sports world like the wave at a Beyonce concert, there are some hockey purists who would argue that without it the game could not survive. Fighting is synonymous with hockey like turkey is with Thanksgiving. (I know. I just used an American holiday to make a metaphorical reference to a Canadian sport.) But you have to see the big picture. Hockey needs fights. In such a physical sport, fighting allows teams to protect their star players, let other teams know when they’re getting embarrassed and set the tone for playoff series when guys have to look across the ice at the same ugly mug for multiple games in a row. On the ice, fighting is a way for opponents to express frustration and keep the game from getting chippy.

In the defense of fighting:

The fights are always one on one and rarely last more than 30 seconds. Guys earn respect with their teammates for not shying away from scraps. They may look like toothless goons out there, but they are doing the right thing (and have dentures for later). It keeps crowds into the game, protects players from being blasted on every check, and can change the momentum of a game. It is an incredibly honorable part of hockey. Most importantly, in these harsh economic times are we really going to eliminate the role of the enforcer in the NHL? Without fights, those guys would lose their jobs—and they have families too.

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