By Ken Reed
In this era of heightened sensitivity to concussions and brain trauma in sports, the fact fighting can result in concussions should be enough reason to ban the ugly practice. But clearly Gary Bettman and his NHL cronies aren’t moved by that reasoning.
So, it’s time to take apart all the myths that the NHL’s old-school dinosaurs use to defend fighting.
The policing argument is a favorite of the macho man NHL set. The thinking goes that enforcers actually make the game cleaner. But when enforcers were at their peak in the 70’s and 80’s, all types of penalty minutes from that period were at record highs. It was the most violent time period in league history. The stats clearly show that the policing argument in favor of fighting doesn’t hold up.
That brings us to Paul Busch, an avid hockey fan who’s developed a website called “It’s Not Part of the Game.” His website is designed to methodically and factually deflate all the arguments for fighting.
Through the last few years, Busch has masterfully debunked all the myths supporting fighting. A recent Busch post destroys the argument that fighting reduces cheap shots and dangerous hits.
“Of all the myths associated with why fighting is “part of the game” the perception that it somehow controls the rats in the game is the most pervasive,” writes Busch. “Common sense, or simply being a hockey fan for an extended period of time, would tell you that the opposite is true. And then of course you could simply rely on the facts.
“Pro-fight fans and the majority of NHL players will tell you that fighting reduces cheap shots or dangerous hits. Therefore we should clearly see a correlation between fighting and clean hockey where penalties are minimal and rat behavior is nonexistent. I’ve published several articles on this site using an analysis of fighting and Rat PIM stats to demonstrate very clearly that the opposite is true.”
Busch then produces a compelling statistical and graphical case against this flawed argument.
In conclusion, he nails what fighting in the NHL is all about.
“Fighting is retribution,” writes Busch.
“Players feel that it must remain in the game because they don’t believe that the officials can control the game or that the penalties are not sufficient to meet their perception of justice. Fighting is a symptom of that breakdown in how the game is played and enforced – and based on facts and common sense it has no positive policing role in hockey.”
— 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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