The desire for battle.

I couldn’t think of a clever title for my research post, but I have most definitely gathered all my ideas and formulated a question that will guide my research that’ll without a doubt spear-head my project. I chose to not follow the easy route and observe the obvious “whiteness” in hockey, or how it is a male dominated sport. It was the violence and fighting on ice that made me feel like I was apart of something, all while sitting on my couch watching through a TV screen. This controversial topic is what I will be structuring my project around.

Why is it that fighting in the NHL is a culturally embedded aspect of ice-hockey and how does this violence serve as a form of entertainment? Does it benefit the sport or take away from it?

My first source is an article written by Tom Van Riper who covers the business of sports for Forbes. The article argues that fighting in hockey has and will be apart of the sport for ever. It expresses that hockey, like American football, is a sport that is structured around physical toughness, tackles, and speed. “Hockey offers a huge mix of skills – speed, agility, quick decision making- to go along with the physical toughness. But fighting and occasional over the top hits are natural by products of the violent collisions that make up a big part of the game” (25). The second main point he makes stood out the most to me was the fact that although we abhor fighting, we seem to me drawn to it, which can be correctly coined as “good television”. This also seems to prove its point in the arena. The only times you see fans in the stand up and howl is when a team scores a goal, and when a fight breaks loose. “Fans and media decry violence. Yet at the same time, they eat it up…There’s a basic human desire to see battle” (25). This article shows how violence as entertainment serves as benefit to the culture and nature of professional ice-hockey.

For my second source, I wanted to jump outside of my comfort zone and research how fighting in professional ice-hockey is considered deplorable and should be fully removed from the sport. I do agree with the above statement but I still stand with the fact that it is necessary for the sport in terms of engaging fans, standing up for your teammates, and possibly change the course of a game. The article is titled “Blood on the Ice” and critiques how fights, injuries, and sometimes death forces the National Hockey League to evaluate and change some of their protocol. This case seems to go hand-in-hand with what has happened in the National Football League as of recent. Fines and suspensions are handed out left and right to players that tackle their opponents head-to-head above the shoulders. The biggest difference here is the fact that suspensions are given out immediately if two players get into a fist fight, rather hockey, an instigator feels necessary to pick a fight with another player, leading to a 1-on-1 fist fight allowed by the linesmen (referees). I could go on for hours but don’t want to get off topic here. This article in short tells the reader to pick a poison. Either take fighting completely out of the game, and fine players for hard hits, or allow them to play roughhouse and leave the art of professional and controlled horseplay alone, in turn giving fans what they want.

My third article titled, “The theory and practice of the hockey fight” by Alec Wilkinson is a mere representation of my first two scholarly articles combined. In theory, he explains that hockey fights aren’t personal matters, rather a “code of behavior” that gives a player the right to stand up for himself (97). “Hockey is a roughneck prairie pastime imported from the Canadian frontier. Its code of behavior insists that a player be responsible for his conduct. If he torments other players with his stick, he is certain to be reproved. The reproof will come in the form of an assault by a player of threatening stature…All sports feel congenial towards athletes who are tough and mean-spirited and will never quit or back down. Even chess” (97). He induces that although a hockey fight is the point where the game collapses for a moment, but give both teams a masculinity boost that can decide the fate of a game.

Reference

Wilkinson, Alec. “The Theory and Practice of the Hockey Fight.” Rolling Stone 11 June 1998: 97. Academic Search Complete. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.

Gregory, Sean. “Blood on the Ice.” Time. 12 Dec. 2011: 56-58. Business Source Complete. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.

Van Riper, Tom. “NHL Fights (And Fights) For Its Audience.” Academic Search Complete. EBSCO, 14 Apr. 2012. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.

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