Does Race Allow the NHL to Get Away with All That Fighting?

Mark HauserCorrespondent IIFebruary 22, 2009

The short answer is yes.  Fighting is up 24 percent this year in the NHL, and while this amazes no one, maybe it should. 

After all, there shouldn’t be any fighting in hockey and there already was plenty of fighting in the NHL before this year.

The only reason that hockey gets away with all of this goon-like behavior is because 99 percent of the league is made up of white players. 

If hockey were predominately played by blacks there would be so much criticism and racial slurs thrown at the athletes that there would be a call to ban the sport. 

NBA Commissioner David Stern is very careful to keep fighting and dirty play out of the NBA and is so concerned about image that the players have a dress code when showing up for a game. 

As you know, the NBA is over 80 percent black while the majority of the fans are white.  I do not think that Stern is being biased against the black players; it is just that, unfairly, society is less forgiving of blacks' unruly behavior than whites. 

Hence, Stern, is wisely just protecting his product.  Unlike NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Stern, along with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell are actually good commissioners because they have the guts to makes changes that are good for their respective sports.

MLB, Soccer, and the NFL also keep fighting out of their sports.  And football is a more inherently violent sport than hockey; hence, hockey has no excuse for all that barbaric, uncontrolled fighting. 

Amazingly, some sports commentators feel differently.  Recently on his ESPN show (“Rome is Burning”), Jim Rome (who usually has more intelligent opinions) argued that fighting makes hockey safer, and hence, was necessary.

He argues that the enforcers are necessary to prevent sticking, tripping, and checking from behind by the team’s goons against the star, skilled players.  While this may seem like a logical argument on its service, this is shortsighted and moronic thinking.

First of all, the NFL is proof positive that this argument is logically flawed and just plain silly.  Given how much he influences the outcome of a game, is there any player is sports that is more important to protect than the quarterback in the NFL? 

Again, the short answer is no, and the NFL protects the quarterback (along with the wide receivers and running backs) by having rules AND enforcing them.  And the NFL does it big time -- no wimpy two- or five-minute penalties, but with large fines and suspensions. 

The NFL functions better than the NHL without any goons and enforcers, and is, as mentioned, a more inherently violent sport than hockey. Secondly, international, Olympic, collegiate, and pre-1970 NHL hockey (to a lesser degree) all manage(d) to get along just fine without all that fighting. 

A commentator on ESPN’s “Around the Horn” said that you cannot keep fighting out of hockey because they carry sticks.  This is another silly argument; after all, sticks are rarely used in a violent way in the NHL. 

And when they are used in the NHL, Bettman actually gives the players lengthy suspensions to deter them from using them in the future.  In addition, some District Attorney’s offices have filed criminal charges against some of these animals.

Plus, lacrosse, which last year was the fastest growing sport in the country, uses sticks and there is ZERO fighting in lacrosse.  Imagine that! 

Sorry, this is just another lame excuse by commentators and fans that like fighting in the NHL and will not admit the real reason that it exists: they enjoy it.  Why? I do not know.

If the NHL gave more severe penalties for sticking, tripping, cheap shot checking, and most of all, fighting, it would all go away (OK, almost all of it). 

And the sport would be more exciting because the more talented players would get to showcase their breath taking stick-handling skills (for example) more often.  (As a side note, to help in this area, the NHL should make the rinks bigger like in International and Olympic hockey.) 

Fighting is obviously in the NHL because the NHL and some of their bloodthirsty fans want it in the sport...not because it needs it to be in order to be a better and more exciting sport.

The NHL is afraid it will lose some of their fan base if they take out the fighting and other goon-like behavior.  While this maybe true, they will also gain some fans if they clean up the sport and make it more athletically appeasing to the eye (i.e., exciting to non-blood-thirsty fans). 

If you want fighting, then go to a boxing or UFC bout.  Or better yet, go to a moronic WWE bout where you will find fans with a similar mentality as yourself.    

The shortsighted Bettman and the rest of the NHL do not have the guts to take fighting out of the NHL and make it a better and more exciting sport. 

And the reasons they get away with this is because some their fans have a barbaric mentality and because 99% of their players are white.  Sad, but undeniably true...and we call ourselves an advance society and species.