Jan 31, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Jim Vandermeer (2) fights Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Jared Boll (40) during the first period at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

"Fighting" Future for Columbus Blue Jacket's Boll

I don’t like fighting in the NHL.

There, I said it. But before you exit out of the article, hear me out. Fighting has a storied history in the National Hockey League. Some of the most famous teams throughout the years were a bunch of fighters, i.e. the Philadelphia Flyers, nicknamed the “Broadstreet Bullies” because of such reasons.

We’re a changing culture and our sports are (slowly, but surely) catching up. Things change, for better or worse. Some are man-made, some aren’t. Those man-made changes don’t always work out, and they’re definitely not always the most popular, but they’re always done in an attempt to improve, to be better.

Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

In recent years, substantial steps have been taken by sporting leagues and associations to make their games safer. With new information on head injuries and its deadly effects coming out almost daily, they’ve been determined to assure the prolonging of their respective sports by doing everything they can to evolve and adapt with the changing times.

League policies on head injuries double and triple each year in emphasis. The slightest hit, or even attempt at hitting near the head usually results in severe punishment.

So why is fighting still allowed?

Before I get too ahead of myself, let me clarify one thing: I do not think the NHL should ban fighting.”But you just said you didn’t like it,” they say in complaint. Yes, I did say that. But banning it is the wrong way to go.

As I wrote earlier, some changes are man-made. But some aren’t. The decisions we make will always be dissected, analyzed, and criticized. So sometimes, the best decision is to not make one. Fighting in the NHL will one day be gone. But it shouldn’t be a decision the league makes. It needs to be aged out, with a changing of culture and philosophy. And it will be.

Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Because our sports are a reflection of our culture and times, fighting in hockey will one day be looked on as a barbarian way of dealing with problems. Politicians don’t duel to the death anymore. The idea of having to result to killing over a disagreement has slightly fallen out of mainstream culture. And since we’re a changing people, NHL players will one day no longer fight each other.

The idea, though, of it being banned by the league wouldn’t feel right. While they’re doing what they can to make the game safer than before, banning would be the wrong thing to do. People don’t like to be told what they can and can not do. A fighting ban in the NHL would feel too much like being bullied by the system. (“The man always bringing me down.”) Fighting has been apart of hockey forever. It needs time to go away.

So what does that mean for players like Columbus Blue Jackets’ very own Jared Boll? He’s a fan favorite for a reason, after all. Shouldn’t that mean everything I’ve said is wrong? Not exactly. I said we’re a changing people, but change is usually a long, slow process. But process nonetheless.

Enforcers like Boll are a dying breed. There will always be be “tough guys” on teams but one day they will have to depend on more than their fists to make it into the big show. I’m not suggesting that will be anytime soon. But it will happen. As much as people hate change, it comes evermore.

Boll and the others will fight that change. And while they will more than likely push it back a few years with some right hooks, soon they’ll get tired. We, as a hockey people, will get tired of it. We will deem the change necessary, and the fight they’ve put up will come to an end.


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