Hockey Violence

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Ice in our Blood and Blood on our Ice

Ice in our Blood and Blood on our Ice

"I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out." Rodney Dangerfield. Ever since the start to the game of hockey, violence has always played a role in the sport. While that role both contributing positive and negative aspects to the game, violence has taken its toll on not only the players but the fans as well. As violence in hockey is as many fans say part of the game and what makes “hockey” hockey, the negative outcomes overweigh the positive. From fights to brawls, slashes to high sticks, boarding to head contact the violence surrounds the entire game. As fans cheer and rant at their full potential when a fight breaks out during a hockey game, not realizing that in actuality the potential of what can happen can be devastating. Problems that are arising currently in regards to violence in hockey, date back and have historical routes to early hockey during the 1900s making the comparison between, the social acceptance of violence in hockey, the relationship between violence and game attendance and the failure of the courts to adequately address the problem, it is clearly seen that violence overall has negative impacts on the game. The cultural spillover theory can be seen to explain the reason behind the social acceptance of violence in hockey, as the cultural spillover theory holds that “the more a society tends to legitimate the use of violence to attain ends for which there is widespread social approval, the greater the likelihood of illegitimate violence.” With this theory it can be shown that, the belief that violence in hockey only leads players and fans to violence outside of the game, is in actuality true. As the legitimation of violence predicts individuals who approve of violence that is widely considered legitimate also approve of violence that is widely considered illegitimate and that this approval translates into violent behavior. With respect to hockey violence, the legitimation of violence suggests that hockey players who approve and contribute to violence that is general considered acceptable within the context of the game, an example being fist fighting, may also approve of more illegitimate violence in other social settings, an example being bar fights, and cause them to behave accordingly. The cultural spillover theory proposes that in relation to societal violence from hockey violence, “an increase can be seen through the acceptance of cultural phenomena that encourage violent behaviour” With this increase in societal violence through the general acceptance of violence, a relation pertaining to athlete violence against women begins to make an appearance. As the attitudes and context in that of a male hockey locker room, often objectify and degrade females, and in the worst cases, may actually promote rape. It was said reported that during the 1991 NHL season, male athletes were frequently demanded by coaches, teammates and fans to improve their manhood by being tough, aggressive, and dominating. With these constant demands and the level of aggression and attitude on the ice, it can be said to combine in ways to promote some male players toward off-ice hostility and even abuse to womanly figures. But violence has always been a part of the game, and as fans say “it’s just what comes along with the game”, as comments like that only help to show that violence is what sells the game of hockey. “We've got to stamp out that kind of thing [fighting], or people are going to keep on buying tickets.” “Show business, we are in the entertainment business and that can never be ignored. We must put on a spectacle that will attract people.” Quotes by the great Conn Smythe and 1977 NHL President Clarence Campbell, only show the huge push that violence helps to sell the game of hockey. The NHL’s tolerance or promotion of violence, depending on which way it is analyzed can be seen as a controversial subject especially...
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