Violence In Hockey 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. Bibliography 1.) Biggane, Brian (PalmBeach Post Staff Writer); The Pakm Beach Post, Copyright 2000. 2.) Florida Panthers Homepage, Copyright 2000, Cox Interactive Media, or www.SoFla.com 3.) The Texas Youth Comission, Violence Studies; http://tyc.state.tx.us, “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 Hockey”.