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.