Protecting the teenage brain is one of the best reasons for banning fighting in hockey. Hockey Canada, an organization overseeing minor hockey, has received a request from its counterpart in the United States, USA Hockey, to ban fighting. Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson responded in a curious way: “We want to remove fighting from the game, but we don’t want to create other violent acts that may occur.”
If Hockey Canada truly wants to remove fighting, it should remove fighting (to paraphrase a TV commercial for a bank). Does it make sense to expose teenage brains to the high risk of concussions in fighting, on the ground that they would get a concussion from some other form of violence anyway? Of course not.
Junior hockey is a business, and fighting feeds that business. It is the dark side of the national game – teenagers offering up their brains in the usually vain hope of a National Hockey League career. The overwhelming majority will not get even a sniff of the NHL. They need their brains intact.
The rules of Canada’s game were not set in stone on a mountain top. There is no earthly reason to put teenagers’ brains through a meat grinder to keep purists happy.