Friday, December 16, 2011

If There Is No Fighting, It's Just Ice Skating

"By a practice I am going to mean any coherent and complex form of socially established cooperative human activity through which goods internal to that form of activity are realized in the course of trying to achieve those standards of excellence which are appropriate to, and partially definitive of, that form of activity, with the result that human powers to achieve excellence, and human conceptions of the ends and goods involved, are systematically extended." Alasdair MacIntyre

Hockey without fighting is just skating? No really though, we think of hockey as having sanctioned fighting like boxing. The thing is, usually actual fist fighting doesn't happen in hockey until kids are well over 12. When I heard about this fight among 9 year olds after a hockey game I was really surprised. then I thought, hey maybe this game wasn't in North America. And I was right it's in Russia. I don't know anything about the customs of kids games in Russia but I know a fair bit about hockey games in Canada and the States for youth. Fighting is not tolerated. Nor is parental verbal abuse. Especially in Canada. Kids play hockey for fun. The fighting kicks in around the time of hormones. And kids having less influences from positive role models. Not the fighting players...but the players who make bad decisions during games.

In the above video what happens is that the kids start insulting each other...then fists fly.

And this is often what happens in professional hockey. Almost always in professional hockey, when a fight occurs its after one of the players has done something wrong. By wrong it could be a wrong play, a rule break, she wasn't caught by refs at a bad play...but often it is something really morally or gameship unacceptable. The fight happens after a bit of back and forth during the game till it escalates. There is ussualy a moral imperative and a "good versus bad ". It's part of the game and part of keeping up good gameship in the game of hockey.

I know, its a bit of a contradiction but there it is.

With children emphasis on the game is fun. Fun. No verbal abuse, no name-calling, no insulting players. The junior games are monitored and refereed and coached way before insults or rude words surface. Way before a fight would surface.

Hockey really is one of the more beautiful sports. Sports is the marriage of art and war. And hockey is the marriage of ice skating and boxing. Like many martial practices or artistic practices there is attainment of knowledge seemingly outside the actual practice. Part of being both an artist or a hockey player is going through the experience and gaining life skills. We teach kids tolerance and kindness during junoir hockey in the hopes that when they become grown ups they will choose their battles. After all, just like real life there are going to be bad people or people with poor social and game skills. Part of the idea of 10,000 hours or the philosophy of virtue (Alistair MacIntyre) is that we gain experience and tact and judgemental skills during our apprenticeship and practices.

The fight among 9 year old hockey players means we need to work harder at making sure children get those precious years of fun and play while attaining social and game skills so they can be ready for real life or grown up games.


mister anchovy said...

I don't have too many opinions about sports, but I do have an opinion about fighting in hockey. I think it has close to destroyed the game in my lifetime. All that's left are the playoffs. There aren't so many fights in the playoffs. Instead, there is fast skating, hard checking, great teamwork and so on.

Fighting is but one of the many things ruining the game at the professional level. I think there are way too many teams and way too many games in a season and there is just far and away too much money floating around the game.

Some commentators make all kinds of arguments for fighting being an important and positive part of the game. I don't know what they're protecting. Watching a couple hockey tough guys dancing around the ice hammering away at each other's armour with their bare fists, is boring and sad.

We're seeing the game change quickly now as important players are off on disability after getting whacked in the head, rather than going back out to play while their brains are rattling. Taking a tougher stand on head shots is a good start. I say, ban fighting from the game and make the cost of getting into a fight so high for individuals and teams that players will think twice before destroying their careers by getting into an on-ice scrap.

Some people argue that fighting is a part of the game that fans expect and enjoy. I don't think I actually know anyone who really thinks watching two hockey players have a scrap is interesting or entertaining. That's because it's boring. Fast skating, skilled shooting, great passing, superior goal-tending, fair touch checking, those are all interesting and entertaining parts of the game.

Candy Minx said...

Well, I guess I feel there are good fights and bad fights. You know the fights are nothig these days according to hockey history accounts. the fighting used to be really brutal back in 20's and up to 50's. There are less fights these days. The fights were born in hockey because of the kind of rules that are loose and minimal in the game. the fights usuaaly have an ettiquette and set of "honour among thieves" and boxing "code". Most of the most notable and famous fights are from 50-70s and the recent games have less notable/memorable fights. These fights in the game are NA. Youth and olympic and international games don't tolerate fights.

The fights in professional hockey exist between games like an ongoing serial drama...and they link games and the players. When there is a fight it's in theory to defend someone breaking the simple elegant rules of the game and to defend good gameship that is being broken.

I'm not so bothered by big wages on sports figures. I would prefer if we would reject the big wages given to corporation heads, doctors, lawyers, and other positions in society that have gotten big headed. I don't mind the idea of a woman getting a lot of money for hitting a ball with a stick or a man skating for a living.

If we abolish the silly notion that CEOs, politicians, laywers, doctors should be making millions of dollars...then I would be willing to cnsider f people playing sports should make less money. Lets eat the suits first.


Candy Minx said...

p.s. I enjoy boxing and wrestling...and see the fights in NA hockey as similar drama. I agree with you about head shots and dirty plays like shoving other players from behind into boards. Now YHAT is what often starts a fight!

mister anchovy said...

When I say there is too much money around the game, I don't just mean the players are getting too much, I mean there is too much money around the game. Something is really wrong with that picture and at the very least, ticket prices must be way way overblown. Players deserve a really good amount of money because they have short careers for the most part. I think being able to shoot a puck or whatever really well is worth an excellent payday, measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. We need our entertainers. The owners are all people who have unbelievable amounts of money to start with - after all, they can afford to buy a hockey team, which costs squillions and bazillions.

The recent basketball strike featured zillionaire owners vs squillionaire players. How boring.

I grew up watching boxing, but I wouldn't attend a boxing match today. Drama is one thing, but I'm just not so much interested in watching people smashing up other people with their fists. I'm not interested in stopping it...if people want to pummel each other publically, I guess it's up to them. I just don't want to watch. Consider that the goal in boxing is to beat one another senseless (a technical knockout) or unconscious(a knockout). Ouch.