Hockey is a tough sport played by tough men. Men who sometimes fight each other on the ice to settle their disputes. But when it’s children playing the game and fighting becomes part of it, things can get messy.
During a game this past January between rivals Brantford and Woodstock in the Canadian major midget “A” division, Woodstock’s Nick Major was punched repeatedly in the head by an opponent after a controversial play. While this happens all too often amongst the grown men who play in the NHL, Major is only 16 years old.
The fight came after Major chased a puck into the offensive zone and came to a sliding stop in front of the Brantford goalie as he was covering up the puck. The move, known as “snowing” the goalie, is considered unsportsmanlike by hockey diehards and many times will cause a penalty in the youth ranks.
But instead of letting the officials handle the situation, a player on Brantford cross checked Major. Then when he was on the ground, pulled his helmet off and punched him in the face and head over ten times. Major suffered a broken nose and was treated for a concussion.
While some in the hockey world think this is a form of players dishing out their own justice, Major’s parents think it’s a case of criminal assault. They were filming their son’s game that day, and when the league handed out suspensions to both boys for fighting, despite the fact that their son clearly didn’t fight back, they took their case to the local police.
“I felt, right from seeing it happen, that my son was assaulted,” said Julie Major, Nick’s mom.
While this isn’t the first time that the violence of hockey has resulted in law enforcement officials being brought in, whether or not the young man who punched Majors repeatedly is a criminal or not isn’t the real issue. The real issue is whether or not this type of player on player punishment should continue to be such an imbedded part of the hockey culture.
“If this is part of hockey then we don’t want to be part of it,” Major’s dad Wes told CBC. “I think that attitudes have to change.”
Many in the sport want to see fighting stay, at least in the big leagues, but almost all can agree that allowing teenage boys to decide when it’s appropriate to come to blows and when it isn’t just can’t be allowed.
The young man who decided to take matters into his owns hands, and fists, should face serious consequences for his actions. If you’re old enough to hurt someone like that, even in the heat of battle, you’re old enough to face the repercussions.
Nowhere else in our society do we condone taking justice into your own hands and doing bodily harm to others, and we shouldn’t accept it in our sports. No matter how long it’s been that way.
Fighting shouldn’t even be allowed between consenting adults in the NHL because of the message it sends to young players. After all, maybe if the young man who assaulted Nick Major hadn’t grown up watching his idols fight each other all the time he wouldn’t have reacted the way he did.