Dropping The Gloves

If you’re gonna be a doctor, you better be able to stomach the sight of blood.  If you’re gonna be a janitor, you better be ready to clean up shit.  And if you’re gonna play hockey, don’t be surprised if you get in a fight.  These are things that just come with the job.  But the NHL is out to change one of these things.

That’s right, the NHL is considering putting a five year plan into action that will remove legalized fighting from hockey games, essentially penalizing players the same as in baseball or basketball for engaging in fisticuffs.

The proposed ban comes on the heels of a Canadian player dying during an amateur game while engaged in a fight (the player’s helmet fell off and one of the punches caused him to fall on his head).  Don’t get me wrong, that really sucks.  No hockey fan or player wants to see anyone die, but this is an isolated incident.  And in my opinion, fighting will actually keep players safer in the long run (this is also the stance of the NHL Players Association).  Let me explain.

Every hockey team has a few “finesse players” who really never get in fights.  They’re usually small,quick, and agile.  Typically, these players tend to evade any big hits.  Part of the reason is their agility.  But the other is actually because of fighting.  Any player who wants to deliver a big check to one of these little guys knows that there’s a handful of players on that other bench who will beat the living shit of him if he decides to take that hit.  So for as violent as hockey fights can be, they actually act as a deterrent , preventing blindsiding and cheap shots that could result in much more harsh, or even career ending, injuries.

I’ve also heard the argument that the NHL is keeping children in mind claiming that they want hockey to be a “family friendly sport.”  They don’t want kids going out and emulating these dueling skaters.

First of all, kids are nowhere near as dumb as everyone wants to believe. And personally, I’m getting really sick of just about everything under the goddamn sun being blamed for having a negative influence on children.  I’d feel better about myself taking a kid to a hockey game than sitting them in front of the latest episode of Hannah Montana (now that’s a show that will destroy the youth of this country!)  And as far as the safety of children goes, let me ask you this:

Imagine you’re a parent and your sports enthusiast child tells you what they want to do when they grow up.  With safety in mind, which one of these statements is scarier.

(1)      “I wanna be hockey player.”

(2)     “I wanna be a racecar driver.”

It’s kinda weird how nobody bats an eye when a little kid says the latter statement.  But I suppose the two sports are equally safe.  Both involve taking hits into the wall, and nobody gets really hurt.  Just ask Wayne Gretzky and Dale Earnhar- oooh.  Maybe hockey is safer.

Look, I’ve been going to hockey games for almost twenty years.  I’ve seen a lot of games, and two things get the crowd riled up: a home team goal and a fight.  Forbidding players to throw down is just gonna appease people who probably don’t even like hockey and piss off both the casual and hardcore fans.  For god’s sake, they even give a remedial “hockey fight tutorial” in the sequel to The Mighty Ducks.  Face it, if you take away fighting, you’re just a stick and a puck away from calling it ice dancing.

P.S.  Unfortunately, although there are sights supporting a fighting ban, there are none that I can find that oppose it.  But you can send an email to the NHL here and tell them to keep the fighting in hockey.

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