Hooked On The NinersBianchini's Market

On the Tunney Side of the Street 12

by Jim Tunney

After Further Review ..."You play to win the game," we say in my book "It's the Will, Not the Skill." This means you play within the rules and with respect for your opponents. So, then will someone provide an explanation why the game of ice hockey, especially at the professional (NHL) level, permits fighting (i.e. pugilism, fisticuffs)? I mean, a better explanation than, "Well, that's hockey!"

Not being much of a hockey fan - never played it, don't much watch it - I'm sure hockey enthusiasts will say, "He just doesn't understand the game." Perhaps. However, when you stop to think about it, with all the protective gear - helmets, pads, gloves, etc. - how much damage can be caused by hitting an opponent with one's fists? NHL rules say fighting is ok UNTIL the combatants fall to the ice, then the official steps in and breaks it up. Huh? What does fighting have to do with "playing to win the game?" Last time I looked, the T.E.A.M. that wins is the one who scores the most goals - not the number of knock downs. Let's see how that works in the upcoming NHL playoffs.

A bigger concern is the role model issue. Young players, who may aspire to play in the big leagues, tend to emulate the pros. "Be like Mike" is true in all sports. What about lacrosse, field hockey and soccer? Those are contact sports, yet fighting is not permitted - doing so calls for expulsion. Why shouldn't fighting be allowed in all sports?

In the NFL - it doesn't get more physical than that - fighting is subject to expulsion. NFL officials are quick to step-in to stop any pushing or shoving (after the play), which would lead to fisticuffs. When a fight does happen, NFL teammates want to protect their brother, and then what follows is a brawl - not football. Fighting detracts from the purpose of the game. In the NBA, if players begin fighting, they are ejected. Further, if their teammates leave the bench and go onto the court, they are fined by the League.

Each sport has its own mindset and the mindset of hockey is "fighting is part of the game." I don't see it. If we want our young players to emulate their professional role models, we need to change that mindset.

Will you watch hockey for the players' athleticism, or for their pugilistic abilities?

For more information about Jim Tunney, please visit his website: www.JimTunney.com, or if you would like to respond to this message, please send your email to Jim@JimTunney.com