Should Fighting be Banned From Hockey?

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First and foremost, we can all agree that hockey is a fundamentally violent sport.  Will hockey still be a violent sport if there was no fighting?  Absolutely.  There will still be men well over six feet tall weighing two hundred pounds are more skating over 20 MPH at one another.  Collisions are inevitable and with collisions come injuries.  The number of fights in the NHL has dropped for the fourth consecutive year.  The League Commissioner claims only 8% of concussions are caused by fights.  Independent research shows that number could be anywhere from 10-24%.  Fighting or no fighting, concussions are part of the sports and the players accept that.

In regard to concussions, Eric Winston of the Kansas City Chiefs said "There are long lasting ramifications to the game we play, long lasting ramifications to the game we play.  (Alright) I've already kind of come to the understanding I probably won't live as long because I play this game; and that's okay.  That's the choice I've made.  That's the choice all of us have made"  He is speaking on behalf of football players, but hockey players know exactly what they are signing up for.  Most of them have had a few concussions before they've even gotten to the NHL.

After attending Duke, Oxford, Johns Hopkins University, Colombia and NYU, Dr. Ricardo Komotar, Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery at the University of Miami School of Medicine, it's safe to say Komotar knows a thing or two about the brain.  Komotar was rather emphatic in his thoughts about fighting, "I think it should be 100% banned.  It's clearly unnecessary violence.  Fighting is obviously something you can eliminate immediately.  Fighting in hockey seems like something you could eliminate without changing the sport at all.  You could make a big change, I think, without changing the fundamentals of the game."

Komotar has a valid point, the olympics and NCAA play hockey without fighting.  His research shows Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) can form overtime from head trauma.  CTE causes an early Alzheimer's or Parkinson's condition, something similar to what Mohammad Ali.

I asked Dustin Leed, a beat writer for the Philadelphia Flyers, for his opinion on the matter.

"I think each sport on the planet has its unique rules and tendencies -- things we've all become accustom to -- and hockey is no different. Sure, there isn't fighting in other sports, but that shouldn't make hockey "bad" or "unacceptable" in others' opinions.

Fighting in hockey has been a tradition since the 19th century and helped build the game on aggressive intimidation and control -- and that's how the game has stayed. I think fighting is important for protecting teammates from any on-ice infractions or cheap play from the opposing team. Fighting in the game helps players police the game, so to speak, and keep the game honest. If an opposing player is not honest with his play, there will always be someone to answer to on the ice. Like an sports, hockey has its unwritten rules and "codes" and fighting goes hand-in-hand with that code.

While I don't necessarily agree with staged fights, settling an issue with a good ole' fashioned spirit-filled hockey fight is something players, coaches and fans alike would hate to lose. Fighting in hockey is a long established tradition and should not be changed. It's always been a part of the game and what made - and makes - the game of hockey so unique."

My opinion is set in stone.  I am a firm believer in what Dustin said.  Fighting is and always will be a part of hockey.  That does not mean I am unaware of the risks that come with it.  The players know the risks of getting into a fight.  If they proceed to fight, that is their choice.  What are your thoughts on the matter?

1 Comment

I have played hockey all of my life and am a huge fan of the New York Rangers. I strongly believe that fighting can not be removed from the game of hockey. It has too much impact on a game because a fight can totally change the tempo of the game for one team and the fans. The ones who fight usually are the tough guys of the team who lack tremendous skill. It is their job to protect their star players and just have an overall presence on the ice. The think that makes hockey the best sport is that after the whistle the play doesn't really stop. There are skirmishes in front of the net that sometimes leads to a fight. I understand that concussions and other injuries are a direct result of fights but that is the risk the players take. You can also avoid getting into fights and Wayne Gretzky is a percent example of this. He had an incredible 20 year career in the NHL and only was involved in 4 fights.

Taking away fighting from hockey is something that I don't think will ever happen. It is up to the player to decide if it is worth it.

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