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To fight, or not to fight, that is the question

by Archives February 17, 2009

These days whether you’re flipping on the television to watch a National Hockey League game or attending one live you’re bound to be witness to at least one fight. And whether the gloves are dropped or not, the intentions are seen in the eyes of the persons involved.
Lately, the topic of much heated discussion is what punishment, if any, should be assessed to those who do so at the most professional and elite of levels, the NHL.
Yet it’s also becoming a more and more common trend these days in younger junior leagues such as the Ontario Hockey League, American Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
In recent months, there has been more evidence suggesting fighting should be banned.
On Dec. 12 of last year, AAA Whitby Dunlops forward Don Sanderson was playing a game when he dropped the gloves. The severity of his injuries from falling and hitting his head on the ice after his helmet came off led him to be in a coma for several months before he finally died in early January. He was only 21-years-old.
In late January this past year, the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms (minor league affiliate of the NHL’s Flyers) forward Garrett Klotz, a reputable tough guy, got into a scrap with Kevin Westgarth (Los Angeles Kings’ prospect). After a tilt that lasted over a minute, Westgarth sent Klotz to the ice, where he began to convulse and have a seizure right by the benches.
He survived the incident, and for whatever reason, has said he won’t stop fighting, saying “it’s a part of the game.”
The question then lies right in front of you: should fighting be banned in professional sports?
The answer is: it depends on how you look at the situation as a whole.
Some players in the NHL today such as Phoenix’s Daniel Carcillo (seven points, 165 penalty minutes in 49 games), Philadelphia’s Riley Cote (two assists, 143 penalty minutes in 43 games) and New York Rangers’ Colton Orr (five points, 138 penalty minutes in 57 games) who are 1-2-3 in penalty minutes this season made the NHL as a role of tough guy or “goon.”
Do we have a place for these guys in our league?
Some people say that if you were to take fighting out of the game, it might lower the popularity of the sport.
Perhaps, but what if you were to implement rules over what is considered “acceptable” and unacceptable?
There are talks ongoing. In the OHL right now, if you decide to brawl it out you receive an automatic ejection and a one-game ban, with a fine potentially added on. They don’t allow you to remove your helmets.
Nowadays in every NHL game before a scrap, the so-called instigator usually edges on the opponent to remove their helmet. The opponents know this, because they know their noggin is in danger, so they opt not to.
But, if they’re one of the names I mentioned earlier or one of the many others who play five minutes of ice time a night, if lucky, just to spend another five in the box, they’re more than willing. Pent-up frustration just doesn’t get out by hitting the punching bag anymore; you have to take it out on people.
This all leads to one question, is the attention worth the violence?

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