Bill Maher – yes, I’m opening a piece about why fighting does not need to exist in hockey by referencing something Bill Maher said, but bear with me – once was discussing what it would take to get equal rights in America for the gay community. He quoted a statistic that showed how people who are against gay marriage are very old while people who are for it are very young.
His hypothesis was that eventually gay marriage would be legal in all 50 states, but we would have to wait for all of the old voters and their long-held ignorant beliefs to die first. Once you get past the harshness of the idea, it makes sense. For change to occur, people in power need must be replaced by people who aren’t burdened by the notions of “that’s how it’s always been” in the world.
Before we get to hockey, let’s talk about the NFL. I know, but I assure you this all builds to a point.
On Sunday, the New York Giants were playing a football game against the Carolina Panthers. The Giants were thoroughly dismantled, 38-0, in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The contest ceased to be in doubt by, at the latest if you’re an optimist, the middle of the third quarter. It was a woodshed beating in which Giants quarterback Eli Manning was sacked seven times.
There was a play that occurred earlier in the game before it got out of hand. Giants defensive back Ryan Mundy delivered a devastating – and legal, although a flag was thrown at first – hit to Panthers wide receiver Brandon LaFell that jarred the ball loose, resulting in an incomplete pass. LaFell was about as defenseless as it gets. It was an extremely violent collision in an extremely violent sport.
At the conclusion of the third-down play, no one on the Panthers ran over to Mundy to challenge him to a fight. Heck, no one on the Panthers had anything to say Mundy in the aftermath of the hit. No one on the Panthers felt the need to “stick up for a teammate” because of the hit. In a game that was over with about 20 minutes left, Panthers coach Ron Rivera did not send out his toughest player to fight Mundy or exact revenge by having a linebacker engage in a fight with a Giants wide receiver.
Suffering one of the more embarrassing losses in team history, no one on the Giants felt the need to “set the tone” for the following week’s game by fighting someone on the Panthers. No one on the Giants felt the need to “fire up the boys” while down 10-0 by starting a fight.
What’s the difference between the NFL and NHL, two extremely violent sports whose players pride themselves on toughness? Quite simply, fighting has always been part of the NHL culture while the NFL does not tolerate it. Fighting in hockey gets you five minutes in the penalty box and the admiration of your teammates and coach. Fighting in the NFL gets you a minimum fine of $26,250 for a first offense and is doubled for a second offense.
If the NHL adopted that policy, Brandon Prust would be filing for bankruptcy by January. Or, more likely, fighting in the NHL would eventually disappear and, after a while, no one would miss it. Read the rest of this entry »