Why are Ice Hockey Players Allowed to Fight in Games? | #students | #parents


Hockey is an incredible sport to watch for many reasons. The skill and multi-tasking ability of its players is unsurpassed by any other sports, and they are (usually) beasts both physically and mentally. Hockey is different than most sports due to the blatant acceptance of fights which take place within a game. This is not to say that fights do not take place on other sports pitches; but the difference is how they are handled. Ice hockey fights are allowed to play out and not penalised and fined as harshly as other sports except for extreme circumstances. Bare knuckle fighting is seen as a blight on most games, but in hockey games it is not only accepted, it is sometimes even encouraged by not only fans but people involved in the game! So, why is fighting really accepted in ice hockey to the extent that it is today. In all honesty it does not just have one simple and straight forward answer. The answer lies in a combination of traditions within the game, the physical components of ice hockey as a game, and the necessary component of intimidation to hockey’s game as a whole. So, let’s break this down. 

1. Longstanding Hockey Traditions

Ever since its inception, intense fighting has been a part of hockey as a game. Although this is the case, the 1970s saw a sharp increase in brawls and dangerous fighting which forced the National Hockey League to put in some punishments and restrictions to ensure the game remained safe for its players. In this decade specifically, teams would employ ‘goons’ for their teams with one simple and sole goal to punish and pummel the opposing team. 

Rosie Ford, a writer at Brit Student and Next Coursework, noted that, “Since the peak of the NHL’s fighting days in the mid-20th century, fighting punishments and penalties have declined slightly, though brawls are still very much a part of the sport.” What would ice hockey be without a healthy amount of physical intimidation? Even though the brawling is not at the same level as it was, the modern-day NHL fan and player are still very much in favour of keeping fighting involved in the sport. 

2. The Physical Nature of Hockey as a Game 

In hockey there are underwritten rules which all players are expected to understand; and one of them is that if you ‘push it’ with your physical play tactics, you are more than expected to back up your advance with your fists, and be prepared for a fight. This is called ‘the code’ and is generally understood by all members of the ice hockey community. Ice hockey has always been a physical game and really would not be the same game without its physical component. Ice hockey without physical play is like a roast without gravy. 

3. The Need to Intimidate in Ice Hockey

Whether or not we understand it as non-players, ice hockey requires a lot of intimidation between players to be played effectively. Players are required to push towards their opponents in an aggressive manner in order to advance towards their goal and score. As Hannah Thorneycroft, a sports writer at 1 Day 2 write and Write my X, commented that, “Without physical intimidation, ice hockey would just be a bunch of big men tiptoeing around each other with long sticks. Physical intimidation is key to the game itself, and it is one of the reasons ice hockey is such a fun game to watch.” It really makes the sport what it is. Ice hockey is a physically driven sport, which can be seen by the people who play it. Big, muscly, and well-built men who somehow still manage to balance themselves on skates cannot be expected to operate without physical intimidation. Even if it was banned, it would probably happen accidentally! 

Whether or not you agree with hockey’s naturally physical nature, there is no denying that it is a crucial part of the sport. Though some consider it barbaric; hockey is a physically driven sport which thrives off of its hot-headed players and the intimidation which they carry out to win each game. So, why are hockey players allowed to fight in games? The answer simply lies in the nature of the sport. Without physical play, hockey would not be as thrilling to watch as what we enjoy today. 





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