Essay, Research Paper: Violence In Hockey


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Violence is no stranger to hockey. As if legal body checking and stick checking
did not make the sport rough enough, more and more players unleash their rage
through extensive violence on the ice. Violence in hockey is what blacklists
American players as second class. This is because of the rise of the violence
trend throught the eighties and nineties into what is now a bloody and injury
filled sport. Violence in hockey is so big that it is even going on trial when,
"Wayne County (Michigan) begins prosecution of Jesse Boulerice. Boulerice,
a Philadelphia Flyers prospect, attacked Andrew Long, a Florida Panthers
prospect, by giving him a two handed baseball swing to the face with a hockey
stick during an Ontario Hockey League playoff game in April of 1998." (Biggane
Brian, Palm Beach Post) And this is only one example of how widespread violence
is in hockey. "Today, aside from boxing, ice hockey (in North America) is
unique among sports in condoning violence." (Bird, Patrick J. Ph.D., Column
460) In fact, violent penalties have doubled in the NHL since 1975. Many coaches
and players credit this behavior to the popular myth that the more aggressive
team wins. This myth has come about by the aggressive tactics used by coaches in
the mid to late eighties. These tactics revolved around disabling the other team
by using slightly rougher checks to throw the other player off balance, and have
since evolved to the incorporation of hockey and violence. Studies, however,
have showed the exact opposite, in terms of violence and wins. Over the course
of the past twenty-five years, as we have seen violence double, it has been
observed that violent teams tend to lose more than non-violent teams. The facts
may point towards non-violence in hockey but it still seems to retain its
appeal. There are a high percentage of fans which prefer violence in hockey, and
even those who watch hockey purely for the violence. The bottom line is that
violence makes for profitable entertainment so it is on the rise. Violence on
the ice also brings about the macho appeal which a lot of the players would like
to be associated with. Many researchers say that this association stems from
little league, where studies show that parents and coaches allow violence. Some
people say the worst is yet to come and some people say the sport used to be
rougher. "Players, such as Joe Kocur, say, "it was alot rougher ten
years ago"" (Kupelian, Vartan, The Detroit News). (This may be because
of less gear required ten years ago and the less refined referees.) "Five
of the longest suspensions have been handed out since 1993, and the penalties
are only getting rougher. And, more equipment is mandatory as opposed to the
helmet optional policy of the eighties." (Kupelian, Vartan, The Detroit
News) This shows how officials keep a closer eye on the game and require more
protective gear because of rougher conditions. "Is there a relationship
between violence and winning in hockey? Despite the wide belief that the more
aggressive and violent team wins, the exact opposite is true." (Bird,
Patrick J. Ph.D., Column 460) In studies conducted by the APA (American
Psychological Association), teams with a higher number of fighting penalties
tend to be lower in standing than those with less fighting penalties.
"Teams who rely on finnesse and grace, instead of losing control and
causing fights, are teams which usually win."(Dr. Walker, Texas Youth
Commission) This explains why European and Russian usually win international
hockey games their fighting penalties and violent penalties are much less than
in the U.S. A more recent study, conducted by Dr. Walker, violence prevention
specialist for Texas' juvenile corrections agency, shows the same results as the
A.P.A. study. This study looked at violence in Stanley Cup Championship games
and, of all 1,462 recorded penalties of all Stanley Cup games from 1980 to 1997,
shows that teams playing with less violence were more likely to win and averaged
more than seven more shots on goal per game than teams that played with more
violence. Over the course of the seven game series, that would equal out to
fifty-three more shots on goal. That is more than a whole extra games worth of
shots on goal if less violence is used. Dr. Walker also found losing teams
demonstrate more violent behavior early on the game. This suggests that violence
was not due to frustration of losing but rather, to a planned, and intentional
strategy which was possibly based on the mistaken belief that violent behavior
contributes to winning. If more violence equals less points then one must ask
why the pattern continues to this day. Dr. Walker suggests that "Old myths
die hard. North American teams that play with more violence continue to lose in
international competition against European teams that play with finnesse".
(Dr. Walker, Texas Youth Commission Homepage) Coaches and players alike should
try to at least curb if not totally eliminate violent behavior while on the ice,
and break the bonds between aggressiveness and winning because they are, in
fact, not related in the least bit. Hopefully these new studies will point
players in the right direction regarding on-ice behavior and civilize their
playing habits, so as to gain respect in the international rink.

Bibliography1.) Biggane, Brian (PalmBeach Post Staff Writer); The Pakm Beach Post,
Copyright 2000. 2.) Florida Panthers Homepage, Copyright 2000, Cox Interactive
Media, or 3.) The Texas Youth Comission, Violence Studies;,
"Studie Shows Hockey Violence is a Loser" 4.) Kupelian, Vartan
(Detroit News Staff Writer); The Detroit News, "Violence is No Stranger to
Hockey", Copyright 2000, The Detroit News 5.) Bird, Patrick J. Ph.D.,
Column 460, "Is There Any Relationship Between Fighting and Winning In
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