Why is hockey a violent game?

by  Kaz Andrew

People who don’t follow hockey closely or who are new to the sport often wonder why it’s so violent.

Of course, those who do understand the sport in greater depth can see exactly how this misconception arises – but it’s often difficult to explain to others – and we should all realise that it does our sport few favours in an international context. And with the Winter Olympics upon us – the international spotlight burns brighter than at any other time.

But first off – why does it appear so violent? In the prefect world, there would be no requirement for any physical contact in our sport. The idea is not to barge into the other players deliberately, but to let the stick do the work. But this, of course, is rather easier in terrain-based hockey than it is on the ice!

The fact is that ice hockey is an extremely physical game due, more than anything else, to the slippery stuff on which we play. It’s also a sport that demands an enormous amount of continual physical effort mainly in short bursts. So you have big guys suddenly racing against each other at speeds they can’t quickly and easily put a stop to.

The breakaway goals at break-neck speed are one of the most celebrated aspects of our game. In fact, you can even play online games looking at this single aspect; with the 32Red Casino, for example, you can play “Break Away”, a fast-moving five-reel video slot game which is dedicated to scoring a breakaway goal.      

Of course, all this fast action leads to fatigue. But here’s the thing, it also requires a great deal of finesse – and all this occurs in a sport where, for some of the time anyway, you’re out of control of your movements.

Put all this together and you’re bound to have powerful men who are tired, moving at speed, out of control and, therefore, some brawls are inevitable.

Of course, this is one of the most celebrated aspects of our game – and it’s this which is a little dangerous in itself as the image harms the sport or engenders unwholesome feelings in spectators. And it’s this aspect which the sport should work to avoid because on the pitch is different. Players understand what might be termed the ‘unwritten laws’ of ice hockey - like keeping your stick low, keeping the puck low, not settling things through a cheap shot and not messing with the goalie … ever!

As long as the basis of hockey remains the same, it will always appear to be slightly violent, at least, to the uninitiated. But this is both to underestimate and misunderstand our great sport – which is a huge pity.