As the first ever organized game of ice hockey neared its conclusion, a group of figure skaters wanted to take over the ice. As it turned out, this was the beginning of one of the most controversial aspects of the game. It’s hard to believe that a fight took place on the first official game of ice hockey, but that’s exactly what occurred. The impatience of the figure skaters lead to a fistfight, and this enduring tradition began. Now, more than a decade later, we question whether fighting should be banned in the NHL and other hockey associations around the world. This argument is attracting more and more attention every day, and my perspective is that fighting should remain in ice hockey.
Taking fighting away will affect the culture of the game enormously. Hockey is a violent sport, and if a part of this is taken away, we don’t know how the players will react. I believe that players will find different ways to be violent. This may result in players taking part in illegal activities when the referees’ eyes are not on them. For example, hitting each other with sticks, or punching each other. Another interesting debate would be the penalty a player would be given for being involved in a fight. Before, the players were allowed to fight, so we can’t assume that they will completely forget about it. Therefore, there will still be situations where two players get in to a brawl. No one can expect players to change their ways so suddenly, and removing fighting might create more problems for hockey. Also, hockey is known around the world as a violent sport, and fighting is responsible for an enormous part of that reputation. Trying to eliminate fighting from hockey will immensely damage its nature and change the perception of it too.
Believe it or not, fighting actually protects players by deterring 99 percent of illegal acts. The people that argue against fighting often refer to the injuries. They often say that fights cause injuries, but that accusation is completely false. In fact, most hockey injuries occur due to illegal or accidental hits. A player seeing a massive figure such as 6-foot-5, 265-pound enforcer sitting at the end of the bench makes guys think twice about what they do out on the ice. This gives the skilled players a chance to play without having to worry about getting injured or concussed. If fighting is taken out, I think we are fiddling with the balance of hockey, and it may also cause the amount of injuries to increase.
Oftentimes, fighting also gives teams a competitive edge. Hockey is a very fast game, and so much energy is involved. When a team is behind in a game, they can easily run out of energy. This is where a fight serves its purpose. It can give a team an emotional uplift, and it could get the crowd energized as well. To put the influence of a fight into prospective, it could change the entire course of the game.
Fighting increases popularity and generates huge revenues for the sport as well. A survey conducted by the Toronto Star revealed that 63% of the people that describe themselves as hockey fans oppose any ban on fighting. Even though an average fan may not tune into a game just to watch a fight, it draws the attention of non-hockey fans. Someone might watch a game to see a fight, but they might also be fascinated by the game itself. This will increase popularity, and therefore, it will increase revenue as well. For example, the growth in popularity will help sell more tickets in arenas. If you are just a hockey fan like me, you might not be concerned about the profit made by the NHL, but the popularity of the game and the revenue leagues make affects us too. As the NHL gains popularity, it will consist of more teams, so the game will be more competitive. Also, when more young children start playing, the quality of the players will increase as well. So in the end, the increase in revenue and popularity due to fighting will benefit everyone.
Finally, we should consider the players’ perspective on fighting. A survey done last year revealed that 99 percent of the players preferred this aspect in the game. The people that oppose fighting are analysts and others that observe hockey from the outside. I respect these peoples’ opinions, but I think the players should win this argument. They’re the ones that are truly involved in the game, so they’re views are far more significant.
Since the beginning, fighting has existed in ice hockey, and I strongly disagree with removing this aspect. Other sports just don’t have this tension, and this is what makes this sport unique. It helps separate the rugged from the weasels and makes ice hockey exciting. The players have evidently expressed their opinion, and now it’s up the general public to put an end to the debate. If we all agree with the players, we might never have to talk about this topic again.