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Fights Must Stay In Hockey For Good Of The Sport....

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Rock Mamola

Producer/Host on WSCR 670AM The Score.

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Evolution affects everything including sports.  Remember when dunks were not allowed and steroids were not technically illegal in baseball? How about the three point line in the NBA and football was played with leather helmets.  Sports are like everything else in life, they change with the times.  Although change is not always welcomed and many people fear it, most of the time through change the product becomes better.    

  

For generations fighting in the sport of hockey has been a hot topic of discussion when it comes the sport evolving.  More than any of the four major sports, hockey has seen more change since its inception in the early 19th century.  Remember when goalies used not to wear masks?  How about the two line pass?  The sport of hockey has not only seen the most change since its inception, but even today constantly embraces new ideas to improve the game.    

  

If the NHL wanted to rid itself of fighting much like the regular season ties, it would be making a huge mistake.

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Say what you want about violence in sports, we as a society crave it.  The number one sport in America is professional football which is celebrated mostly because of the devastating hits we see week in and week out.  The idea of a human being catching an oval shaped ball and being leveled by someone on his blind side causing his helmet to fly off into the air is attractive to us.  The number one PPV's on cable is not The Social Network when it hits "on demand"....it's UFC/MMA where two men are allowed to beat the hell out of one another for pride and money.  We are a violent society at heart even though most of us would never admit it.  People watch hockey to see the violent nature of the sport, and occasionally a fight will occur.    

  

I have said for many years that hockey is only popular with the country when one of three things happen.  

  

1.The Stanley Cup is won  

2. A massive brawl of epic proportion happens  

3. A player is permanently injured 

  

I think, these three incidents are when NHL hockey are the front page story in the collective minds of American sports fans.  Who cares about hat tricks when I can see something I rarely see in my everyday life.  Trophies, blood and violence draw more hockey fans to the game than any major superstar because the NHL does such a horrible job at promoting their own game.  The NHL relies on fighting as much as the PGA relies on Tiger Woods.  No one is talking about Mark Wilson when it comes to PGA golf, but if Tiger is playing we pay attention.  

  

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With the news this week of former Chicago Blackhawk Bob Probert's brain having evidence he suffered with CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), the conversation once again comes back to whether fighting should be banned in hockey.  CTE has been found in the brains after death of boxers, wrestlers, and all levels of football players.  Also with the recent rise in awareness of concussion research by all the four major sports, there is concern that sports like football and hockey could be more dangerous than we had originally thought.  In fact the NHL has been without their biggest star in Sidney Crosby for most of the season because of a concussion he suffered at the beginning of 2011.    

  

As primitive as fighting is in nature, the NHL needs to stand pat on how fighting is viewed in their sport.  While not a hockey player myself, I understand the mentality and reasoning behind why fighting should stay around.    

  

I agree with Blackhawks defenseman John Scott when he says 


"If you eliminate fighting, guys are just going to go around hitting people with no regard for what is going to happen to them.  If you take fighting out, there will be guys running people, taking head shots, using their sticks. It's just going to increase the number of concussions."

  

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Some who read those words may think it is silly to think if you take away fighting that violence in the sport would increase, but Scott is right.  Fighting in hockey is important because it polices the sport and renders the ability to settle differences without causing further bodily harm.  If someone were to go after Patrick Kane during a game, a brief minute scrum with the enforcer of the Blackhawks will send a message to the aggressor to rid himself of the idea of tracking Kane at his every move.  By allowing the fight to go on, you protect Kane from the aggressor for the remainder of the game because he will be thinking twice about the action.   

  

That is the sole reason why fighting must continue to be allowed in professional hockey.    

  

I agree with Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly when he commented on the findings of Probert's brain:   

  

"Findings with respect to one particular player are not going to cause us to do anything that we are not already doing."  

  

In other words:  "Fighting is here to stay.....no matter what results you show me."  

  

Of any sport that needs a larger audience, for hockey to get rid of fighting would be a tremendous step backwards for the sport itself.  People tune in and go to games on a nightly basis not to see great passing and goal scoring, they want to see blood.  The NHL would lose more than just fans if they actually decided to rid the game of allowing fighting in the game itself.  The NHL would be doing more than just changing the rule book of the sport, they would be changing the culture that surrounds the sport.  If the sport were to rid themselves of fighting, you can bet that the league would also take a hard stand on what the NFL termed earlier this year as "devastating hits" because the amount would surely increase if self policing the sport was not allowed.  Then what would the NHL be?  

  

Dead.  

  

-Rock  


 

John "Rock" Mamola is the Associate Producer of The Mully And Hanley Morning Show and Host of The Rock Report on WSCR 670AM The Score  

  

You can find The Mully And Hanley Morning Show at twitter.com/mullyhanley  

  

You can find Rock at twitter.com/RockMamola  

  

CATCH THE ROCK REPORT EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT AT 10PM ON 670AM THE SCORE IN CHICAGO AND 670THESCORE.COM WORLDWIDE

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6 Comments

GeekToMe said:

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It's a sad statement indeed when 2 of the 3 reasons you state make hockey popular have nothing to do with the actual SPORT of hockey itself. And to condone keeping violence within the sport is short-sighted indeed. I've been a fan of hockey for decades, but I can't stand the cro-magnon attitude of 'fans' who need to see fighting in a game that is already physically brutal. The sport of hockey is a challenging and already has plenty of hitting within the context of the SPORT. Unless it's happening in a boxing or MMA ring, fighting has no place in SPORTS. Those who say otherwise are holding on to archaic notions and are doing nothing to help promote the NHL. At least in my opinion.

Rock Mamola said:

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without fighting.....you take away a key component of why people watch/attend.

It may seem primitive to you, but to many others it is an attraction....

It needs fighting to keep an audience that is small already from getting tiny.

Sad but true...

-RoCk

Dean Odin said:

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Absolutely horrible. Stop blogging until you take a remedial grammar course, bucko.

Rock Mamola said:

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please expand Dean....

John Talarico said:

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The NHL is increasing tv ratings on a year-by-year basis while fighting seems to be declining. The playoffs seem to do just fine ratings-wise, often times without a single fight in the entire postseason. The "People only watch hockey when there is fighting" argument is wrong and worn out.

Rock Mamola said:

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In the last two seasons there have been increases in tv ratings, but attendence is only seeing a .2% rise. There were only 20 less fights last year than the year before (after 3 straight years of increasing number of fights).

You are rarely going to have fights in the post season, but people watch because (1. The Stanley Cup is won).

All I'm saying is if you take it away, you further the risk of injury to your players and you will lose some of an audience that (at a snails pace on an iceberg) is becoming more attracted to the game.

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