Why fighting belongs in hockey

BOBBY BADER/SNAPPER Fighting is part of the game at all levels of hockey, including the American Hockey League which is the minor league of the NHL.

Bobby Bader
Photo Editor

In the past, I have made it well-known that I am no stranger to the game of ice hockey. Having attended over 1,500 games at the professional level, it is safe to say I have seen plenty of hockey games in my day.

Ice hockey has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I had season tickets to the Philadelphia Phantoms, and later the Philadelphia Flyers, for about 15 years of my life.

Almost every Friday and Saturday night of the season was spent in a hockey arena.

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During my days as a season ticket holder, I witnessed a fair share of fights; sometimes there would even be upwards of four fights per game.

There was honestly nothing better than a good old-fashioned hockey fight to get the crowd going. The energy the crowd felt during those moments were unmatched.

Hockey fights were one of the most exciting and memorable aspects of the game as a kid. I’d watch fights over and over on YouTube to experience the same level of thrill I felt at the game.

I have seen players get knocked out cold, hug it out at center ice, and bench clearing brawls. Some fights were better than others, but all fights were exciting to watch.

I have always been a fan of fighting in hockey regardless of what other people say. I understand the dangerous aspect of fighting in hockey but do not think it is a huge problem.

People will argue that a majority of concussions in hockey come from fighting, but they do not.

It is without question that a player can suffer from a concussion resulting from a fight. However, it is more likely for a player to get a concussion from a body check.

Open ice hits and corner battles are more dangerous than fighting in hockey.

However, it is believed that the repeated beating to the head is what causes long-term damage to the mental health of players. In the past 10 years, five former NHL enforcers died from head trauma. The deaths of these former players shook the league to its core and resulted in a rapid decline in fighting within the NHL.

Outreach programs and counseling must be put in place by the league to help players prevent mental health issues later in the players’ lives. I believe these programs can help save the lives of players currently in the league and those who have retired.

While I do believe fighting has its place in the game of hockey, the long-term mental health of players is what matters most. Representatives of the NHL along with hockey fans do not want to see any more players die playing the game they love.

Most hockey fans are divided on the issue just like myself, but our love for hockey will fuel the passion and excitement the game of hockey has always brought to the table.