The ongoing debate of whether or not to ban fighting in the NHL was rekindled Tuesday night when Montreal Canadiens enforcer, George Parros, hit the ice face first and suffered a concussion in the middle of a fight with Toronto’s Colton Orr.
Thankfully, Parros should be fine, but it was another example of why the fighting debate should continue among the NHL and its players.
Fighting is an integral part of hockey, and it is what makes the sport unique. Part of the reason I love the game is because of the physicality. It’s a sport where you can stand up for yourself and your teammates in different and more violent way than in other sports. But is it time to rethink fighting in the NHL?
I think so.
People who want to ban fighting in the NHL are in the minority. Some NHL general managers – most notably Steve Yzerman - have called for a ban on fighting after Tuesday’s incident, but the move to ban fighting is not very popular among the players. Ninety-eight percent of NHL players polled during the 2011-12 season oppose a fighting ban, and with percents as high as that, there’s not going to be change any time soon.
If you visit any hockey arena you can see the way the majority of the crowd jumps up and starts yelling in excitement once a fight breaks out. From that you can infer banning the action would be unpopular for fans too. I must admit, I do it too. But I also can’t help but be appalled at such an action.
When fans cheer the violence on the ice, I am reminded of the Romans cheering on the slaughter of humans in the Colosseum or the thousands of public executions cheered on by the public during the French Revolution. Obviously, no one is being slaughtered in a hockey arena, but the general mentality of human allowing and even cheering such meaningless acts of violence exists today, and I see it in a lot sports fans.
That scares me.
The NFL has ignored concussions and the long-term effects they have on current and former players. That has lead to players living miserable lives and even committing suicide. It seems the NFL is trying to repair that wrong, but that kind of inaction is unforgivable.
I am afraid the NHL may be on the same track as the NFL. I love the physicality of the league, but I can’t morally justify holding on to something so trivial in the grand scheme of life. Especially when people’s lives and mental well-being are potentially at stake.
I believe life is our most precious asset and anyone who takes it away is the worst kind of thief.
The NHL and hockey can still exist without fighting. I just hope it doesn’t take a death for people to the realization fighting needs to be banned.