Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Hockey fights and profit

There is out there the perception, and some say the myth, that 'Americans only watch hockey for the fights'. More properly, I think the myth is that the casual hockey fan will buy tickets or tune in because of fighting, and will lose interest if it is purged from the game. The 'clinching' argument is always that nobody goes to the bathroom or to the beer stand when a fight breaks out.

I think this is a fallacy. As an analogy, I can say that motorists always slow down and gawk at a motor vehicle collision scene, but that doesn’t mean we should not work to eradicate them. People are curious, and two people fighting will always have shock value, like the collision, and will pique their interest. That doesn't mean it is desirable.

Living near Vancouver, I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ over the years to see the Canucks play the Wild, and I will tell you that most of those were yawners, and that when a fight started everyone was jolted awake and stood up and screamed. To me that doesn’t prove that fighting is good for hockey, it proves that grinders and checkers slow the game down to a dull dullness. If we encourage artistry and skill, we will be entertained by the game itself, rather than by a sideshow.

Owners are apparently fearful that banning fighting would hit their bottom line. I say that, as always, the NHL is laughably short-sighted, and are giving up a lot more money by allowing fighting. If the game was allowed to be as open and spectacular as it could be, casual fans who are turned off by stifling defensive hockey and thuggery would flock, and would more than make up for a few dinosaurs who can’t get their fix of violence and stop watching. What would you rather watch, two guys wrestle and hit each other in the helmet, or Alexander Ovechkin scoring on his back?


No comments:

Post a Comment