Should fighting be allowed in hockey?


In an NHL game in 2009, two players are engaged in a vicious fight, one of which that attracts a prodigious amount of fans.

Jakob Aggers, Ranger Review Editor

“I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out,” joked the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield. Although this common joke may be humorous, it rings with an aspect of truth.

Since the establishment of the National Hockey League on the 26 of November 1917, hockey has always been a violent sport. Characterized by checking other payers and wearing blades on the bottom of one’s skates, it is unquestionably barbaric. Aside from the violent nature of the game, fighting has also been a large part of the game from the beginning.

However, after an increased amount of speed and aggression that has recently been introduced to the game through a new generation of players, the amount of fights in the NHL has vastly increased. According to a study led by Sports Illustrated, a fight broke out in about 20% of hockey games in the 1960s. It has since increased to about 30-40% in 2013.

As the 2018 playoffs continue and teams continue to get more aggressive, individual dirty play persistently increases and more fights break out. This brings on the common debate about whether fighting should be allowed in hockey.

A vast amount of people believe that fights increase the intensity of games, especially during the playoffs. “Violence, specifically fighting, tends to attract fans in large numbers across the United States and Canada,” concluded a study lead by the American Journal of Economics and Sociology in 2003.

Many fans also advocate for the fact that the nature of the sport has always been violent. Though it is governed by the rule-book and referees, fighting is essential to the game.

“Hockey is, and always has been, a sport steeped in a culture of violence. Players have learned, however, to navigate through its mazes and labyrinths of physical contact by adhering to an honor code of conduct,” Ross Bernstein, author of the book The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL, stated.

However, many people advocate for general safety of the players and claim that fighting can lead to concussions and mental health issues. They also argue that fights glorify violence and can have a negative effect on young viewers.

“Whatever is done at a professional level in sports is emulated almost immediately by children who idolize their heroes. NHL players also have to be aware of this and set a better example for our kids” Dr. Michael Cusimo, who is the health advisor at a Canadian news website “The Globe and Mail”, said.

Though NHL players have a large influence on the younger generations, kids need to find a way to differentiate the violence they see in a game from the actions that society condones. The large amount of fans that hockey attracts through fighting undoubtedly outweighs the effects it has on disobedient children and the health of individual players. After all, these players are professional athletes that are paid for what they do, fighting included. Fighting is such a large characteristic of hockey and, in the end, there is no justifiable reason that it should be disallowed in the NHL.