Fights in pro hockey dont deter greater violence, study finds: If anything, clashes between players lead to more penalties

Fights in pro hockey dont deter greater violence, study finds: If anything, clashes between players lead to more penalties

2022-06-23

Allowing fights among players in the National Hockey Leagues does not deter greater violence in the modern game, according to a new study.

In fact, teams and players that fight more often are also responsible for a disproportionate number of violent penalties across the league.

The results refute the arguments by league officials for keeping fighting in the game, said Michael Betz, author of the study and associate professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University.

“The issue of fighting is polarizing within the hockey community and for casual fans. As a former hockey player and a researcher, I wanted to see if the arguments in support of fighting held up,” said Betz, who played goalie as a collegian at Ohio State and briefly as a professional in the ECHL (East Coast Hockey League).

“What I found was that not a single approach I tried yielded any evidence that fighting or even the threat of fighting deters more violent play in the NHL.”

The study was published today (June 22, 2022) in the journal PLOS ONE.

The issue is especially important now with the increased understanding of the consequences of traumatic brain injuries, Betz said.

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