Fighting in Hockey: The Role of Media

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Hockey is one of the most exhilarating and thrilling sports of all time! It never fails to bring the crowd to their feet. Despite its ability to create an atmosphere full of excitement, a critical look at it finds that it is a sporting event filled with redundant brutal violence. Throughout the years, the stereotyped impression has been made that hockey players are emotionless, impassive and bloodthirsty animals that enjoy the sight of blood and violence. The fighting that takes place in hockey is not legal. Nonetheless, violence takes place so frequently that it has become a part of the sport and participants get away with it. Evidently, fighting comes at a cost. Sometimes the damage is reversible and in some cases the harm is everlasting. These constructs not only affect the players moral and physical value, but also leave a mark on their fans and even society especially the youth. This paper argues why fighting in hockey should be permanently banned.

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If we go back to the definition of the words fighting and hockey we will see that the word fighting means being involved in violent activities while on the other hand, hockey is a game played between two teams each consisting of eleven players who use sticks to drive the ball to the opposite teams net. Comparing these two interpretations, we can observe that there are no points of similarity or overlap between the two words. This can confirm that fighting is not meant to be a part of hockey originally. It could be that the fighting evident today in the sport is solely for the entertainment of the audience. If individuals are interested in pursuing enterprises that hover more around violent brawling, there are other sports that are simply based on more violent activities such as boxing or wrestling.

Fighting in hockey simply started when the authorities started neglecting the players faults when they first begun to cross the lines. The reason behind this negligence and disregard was the fans reaction toward such tactics and the fact that their cheers encouraged the perpetration of the early fights. The NHL and other hockey authorities enact very serious laws and punitive actions against violence in the game in order to discourage the players from fighting or engaging in other forms of violent behaviour. Nevertheless, these measures were only effective until popular teams resorted to violence to resolve in-game issues. The result was that other teams begun to follow suit. Fighting became a popular trend.

The Role of the Media in Hockey Fighting

The media is such a powerful influence in our lives today so much so our children often find role models by viewing content provided in different forms of media. Certain content is not advisable for certain age groups. Such content includes coarse language, sexually explicit material and violent content. Research has shown that content of this kind viewed by certain age groups such as children could open them up to a culture of violence (Huessmann & Taylor, 2006). Hockey is generally a very healthy activity and an engaging sport, both to play and to watch. In fact, it has no viewer disclaimers set for professional hockey games; everyone, including children, is allowed to watch the matches.

In todays version of hockey, a lot of hostility and battling is noticed with impunity, so that the sports reputation doesnt suffer from constant confrontations in the field. To illustrate, when a youth watches the hockey games and witnesses the unpleasant scenes of physical and verbal arguments, this individual automatically assumes that these are few actions that define the particular sport, or all other sports. This can lead to the belief that fighting is a part of sport, as shown by research. As a result, the next time he plays sports with his peers, he would follow the same strategies he saw on TV and ends up having a fight with the opposing team to win.

The disadvantages of fighting in hockey are numerous. Role modeling for children is a major part of the sport. If that role model, the hockey player, who is basically set as the hero in the kids mind, is seen fighting and using bawdy speech when communicating with the opposing team, the possibility of the same kid trailing the same path as the aggressive player is very high (Dietz, 1998). These are the adaptive responses that children have to what they view, eventually imitating what they see. Research has shown that children and young learners can easily be influenced by what they see and learn. This could mean detrimental effects to the social welfare and growth of the next generation of hockey lovers.

From a legal point of view, if fighting is considered and treated as an assault on the streets, what sets it apart when it is done on the field or ice? Our parents, school staff, government authorities and many more have been reminding us and making banners from the start regarding how we should not fight with others no matter what. These represent the social rules put in place as well. They have been teaching us that decent behavior suggests we solve our problems by communicating and not warlike resembling animals. Most global laws find it a crime and tortious action to engage in violent behavior against another fellow. Yet, somehow, these laws and constitutions do not apply to hockey players and the incidents that occur during NHL matches. The same action must be taken no matter where the source of the fight is and the players must face charges. If not, we must question equality and the value of different social classes in society. The issue of celebrities facing different standards of the law shouldnt arise, allowing hockey players to get away with assault simply because the nature of the assault provides entertainment to some viewers.

Nathan Aaseng (1993) mentioned in his book The Locker Room Mirror that the strategy used by teams in fighting can be interpreted as bullying their ways to championships. Coaches feel proud when their players knock others out. This is seen as an achievement of what they have been training for (Aaseng, 1993). The fights that take place during the game have caused a lot of injuries throughout the years. Statistics in the sport claims that more than 2800 are hospitalized owing to hockey injuries. The great majority of them are caused due to fighting (Klein, 2011). These are unnecessary medical costs that influence the performance of the individual and the team as a whole. There have been cases where the player was faced with a permanent injury that affected his personal future and threatened his career. This also brings down the overall achievement of the team because they are essentially losing a player who was familiar with the teams tactics and strategies (Klein, 2011). The contract that is made between the hockey leagues and the player states that they cover any medical costs and treatments needed for them to recover to full health. This doesnt give the sport a leeway to ensure that players do all they can, including engage in violence, simply because they have a health cover.

Fighting is pointless in hockey games. Thinking economically, the moneys spent on treating injuries accruing from fighting can be used for the better development of the team. Some may say that the leagues are at a point that can afford spending money on both health and other facilities. However, what they cannot afford is losing time and energy which is what happens when fighting occurs. Fighting is pointless because it wastes time and energy. The energy spent on fighting could be used to increase the performance of the players. What happens at the end of a fight is that the two opposing sides get separated by the referee and both teams continue the match. Analyzing the outcomes of the fight we realize that the score is still the same, neither of the teams have a better ranking, the only difference is the energy lost and the time and chance to score a point that is also gone.

Virtue and integrity is broken when players fight. The rules that apply in matches are not the only guidelines that must be followed by the players. The laws of humanity and general social welfare apply to them as well. Players are supposed to maintain their discipline. As an example, soccer players will get a penalty if they take their jerseys off after scoring as well as starting a fight with another player, no matter what. As a part of their jobs players must keep calm and control feelings when emotions run high during the game. Players fighting may also lead to audience questioning the fairness of the game. Although some may get enthusiastic about the fights, others may wonder about the standards that assess a players value. Technically players are not evaluated on their fighting skills. Therefore, such fights during the games can questions the standards of the game.

In recent decades, the NHL teams have been hiring certain players, also known as Tough Guys to guarantee a better fighting chance for the team. This can be morally wrong and also in a way discriminating. Hiring someone for a hockey team and calling them the tough guy basically has the impression that we have got no confidence in your hockey skills. However, we will still hire you since your body size will scare our opponents. Analyzing this situation can have the outcome that individuals are being judged and chosen by their body image rather than their ability to overcome the other team by means of skills and talents.

Fighting in hockey must be banned for it is triggering different forms of discrimination in the background. Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, believed that the controlled violence noticed in sports such as hockey bring out and test what is called manliness by a lot of people. He assumed that athletes roughness would lead to courage and as a result more manliness. This allegation claims that if someone does not fight and cause no injuries, then that person is not manly and therefore a woman. This gives the hollow that women are weak and cannot take care of themselves if they are in a situation where fighting is required. This is an extension of discriminatory views that were held previously. Players are also less likely to engage in honest sporting if skillful playing is deemed as weakness.

Bad attitudes that promote violence and aggression in the society are strongly being countered. In a bid to have an all-round citizenry, may countries have adopted different mechanisms, both social and legal, to ensure that violent approaches to doing things are not resorted to. Aggression is not a viable solution to the determination of disputes, both in the field and otherwise. As such, there is no legal or moral justification for the violence that occurs on hockey fields. Instances of the deaths of players suffering from serious diseases have brought to the limelight health concerns that are associated with fighting. Derek Boorgard, for example, had a degenerative brain disease that led to his death at the young age of 28. Serious health risks are associated with fighting in the hockey field, as players are exposed to continued battering of ones body. Though only limited data is available on the subject, there is cause for concern when considering the health effects that the fighting could have on players. For the safety of players, it is important that such fighting is completely banned.

In conclusion, fighting in hockey should be banned because of the social and health effects that it has. The players suffer from serious injuries and conditions possibly leading to death, while social and moral constructs of peace maintenance are not kept. Furthermore, fighting is a form of assault barred by legal instruments. Fighting in hockey should be completely banned.


Aaseng, N. (1993)....

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