By Ken Reed
Back in 2006-07, 384 NHL games featured at least one fighting major, which was 31.2% of all games.
During the 2018-19 season, there were fewer than 200 games with a fighting major, the first time in the modern era the total had dropped that low.
There are several reasons for the decline in fighting:
1) Rule changes have pushed the NHL into an offensive era, requiring rosters filled with fast, skilled hockey players. Teams simply can’t afford to carry a couple goons on their rosters anymore whose best skill is bare-knuckle fighting.
2) The crackdown on fighting in junior hockey has created a culture in which fights are just a very small part of the game at that level. A couple years ago, the Ontario Hockey League dropped the number of fights allowed before a player is suspended from 10 to three. As a result, fights dropped by 48% in the OHL in 2016-17, the year following the rule change.
3) There is an increased awareness and understanding of concussions and CTE in hockey. More and more players understand that repetitive blows to the head could result in negative long-term health consequences.
“The NHL can no longer sell hate and violence and get away with it,” says Daniel Carcillo, once one of the league’s most prolific fighters.
“I don’t see this trend reversing, and it’s a good thing that young men don’t have to play hockey with a pre-requirement being that you may have to bare-knuckle box.”
Carcillo is now a leading advocate for player health awareness in the NHL.
Many, including League of Fans, are calling for a complete ban on fighting in the NHL and at all levels of hockey.
“A fighting ban is still an appropriate goal,” says Chris Nowinski of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, “but based on the choices they’ve made, I suspect the NHL would prefer to continue to have the threat of fighting as a way to appeal to a subset of fans.”
If so, let’s hope the NHL’s thinking evolves when it comes to that type of mindset.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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