By Ken Reed
Fighting is up in the early going of this shortened NHL season. That’s bad.
Staged fighting, in which a couple players — usually hired goons — drop their gloves after just a few seconds of game action to fight each other, is also up this season. That’s worse.
As Paul Busch writes in a blog entry titled, “NHL Cares About Player Safety — Just Don’t Ask Them About Fighting,” the NHL is very proud of their relatively new Department of Player Safety. The league claims to want to reduce the number of head shots in NHL games. But get this: they still allow fighting, the intent of which is to bash another player’s head in!
“It’s pretty straightforward,” writes Busch. “A primary objective of the Department of Player Safety is to reduce illegal blows to the head and reduce concussions. The primary objective of players who drop the gloves is to punch their opponent in the head as often as possible to punish them or send a message to their team. How can league officials and team executives reconcile the obvious inconsistency with those two sentences?”
Even hockey fighting proponents are beginning to question the practice. Joe DeLessio, an NHL fan who continues to support fighting as “part of the game” in hockey (although in reading his commentary it appears his conscience seems to be getting to him), believes staged fighting as no place in hockey.
“We can look at some fights and see the participants as courageous — as good teammates who are willing to sacrifice for the good of the team. (And again, we might only do this because we choose to see things this way.) But it’s harder to cheer on a fight that only exists to put on a show for a bloodthirsty crowd, or to settle an old score that won’t have an impact on that night’s game … I can’t talk myself into staged fighting. Even fight fans have to draw the line somewhere.”
Busch calls for the end of all fighting in hockey — staged or otherwise — in another blog entry.
“There is a growing recognition from many hockey fans that fighting does not fit in the NHL anymore,” says Busch. “Dropping the gloves is a symptom of a game that is loosely enforced and tolerates emotional outbursts of violence. Increase penalties for cheap shots and have referees step in quickly when players congregate after every whistle, and the reasons to fight will be greatly reduced. The beauty of the game is in its speed and hard hitting. The image that the NHL and NHLPA should be promoting is the artistry and skill of those who play one of the hardest professional sports on the planet. Fighting is not part of the game.”
You simply can’t say it any better than that.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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