Monday, 15 October 2012
A Milestone - 10,000 Page Views
Sometime on Sunday, October 14, 2012, It’s Not Part of the Game registered 10,000 page views. I’ll admit that I wasn’t monitoring my traffic, hitting refresh over and over to get the exact time when that memorable visitor hit my site, but it’s still an important statistic in the history of this blog. I can’t take any credit for significant changes but a lot more people have better information on fighting in hockey, and why it doesn’t belong in the sport.
In late December of 2011 I had read the New York Times series of articles on Derek Boogaard. The more I thought about his hockey history, the more I wondered why fighting remained in the game. I had always been anti-fighting, changing the channel on TV or remaining seated at Leafs games when players dropped the gloves. But I was never an “in your face” supporter of having it eliminated. On New Year’s Day of this year I decided to start a humble blog where I would publish my views and perhaps expose of the myths surrounding the role of the enforcer.
After the first month of writing I wondered how many articles I would post before I ran out of material. I’m currently at 44 posts, including this one, and still have 3 or 4 more issues that I want to write about. Add to that the interesting trend towards limiting fighting in junior hockey and it looks like future content will not be an issue. Theirs is no shortage of journalists and bloggers publishing material on this issue but they are mostly time sensitive due to an incident tied to the game or an opinion piece that is posted and the writer moves on. I think my posts, taken collectively, provides a repository of articles, facts, statistics and links to the issues surrounding enforcers and fighting. I believe that I have been able to cast serious doubt about the supporting myths of policing, momentum, stress relief and outright success that the pro-fighting faction continues to use.
Most of the comments, tweets, emails and counter arguments I get from this blog and my comments on other websites is negative towards my point of view. I get it – I haven’t played professional hockey, I must have been beat-up as a child, I should watch tennis. But over the past year I get the sense that hockey fans are re-evaluating the role of fisticuffs in hockey and starting to express the view that it should be eliminated. Fan polls that once were overwhelming in favour of two players pummeling each other are now close to 50-50 or perhaps even in favour of having it banned. Fans are starting to realize that the old myths and perceptions (fighting keeps the game cleaner) are being disproved by facts and statistics. And no one can legitimize punches to the head at a time when all professional sports are focused on reducing concussions.
I hope to continue spreading the message that fighting has to be eliminated from hockey until the time when all levels of the sport have an immediate ejection for any players who drop the gloves. As I look forward to the next 10,000 visitors, let’s look back at the top 5 posts over the past 288 days (in order of page views):
#1. Hockey Players Fight Because They Can
At age 15 every elite sport will toss a player for fighting and likely assess additional suspensions. At age 16 Hockey diverges from all other sports, allowing punches to the face in the name of tradition and training for a career in the NHL. Hockey players fight because they have been enabled since Junior – and that’s the best explanation for why it still exists.
#2. Goon – Great Hockey Movie
I enjoyed Goon and would put it in the top 5 of my personal list of hockey movies (not that there’s a lot to choose from….). And I thought it did a good job of representing some of the reasons why fighting should not exist in hockey.
#3. What We Can Learn From the Boogaard Story
No one can know if the enforcer role led Boogaard to his addiction and ultimate death. But by studying his story there is plenty of information that can teach us about what is wrong with encouraging junior players to fight in order to make it to the NHL.
#4. More Facts on the Role of Enforcers
I've posted a couple of articles with statistics that show fights and fighters add nothing to the game. This post was very popular because it showed how coaches really use the role and also contained skills analysis of some of the better known fighters in the league.
#5. How Did We Get Here?
A look back at some recent history of the enforcer role in hockey. In the mid-70’s the Flyers changed the game and the resulting increase in fighting ushered in huge increases in penalty minutes. Large numbers of enforcers skated in the league through the 70’s and 80’s, and the game was at its most violent.