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Good Question: Why Do We Like Violence In Sports?

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(credit: CBS) Liz Collin
At 15 years old, Liz Collin made her broadcast debut covering...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There’s new information about a former feared enforcer for the Minnesota Wild.

The New York Times said Derek Boogaard showed signs of a degenerative brain condition caused by repeated blows to the head. Had Boogaard lived, the report said, he would have had middle-age dementia. Boogaard’s family donated his brain to be studied after he died from an accidental mix of drugs and alcohol in May. The New York Times has been writing about his role as a fighter on the ice and how it affected him. It got us wondering about big fights and hits on the ice and on the field.

Why do we like violence in sports? Good Question.

A new NFL rule this season moved up the kickoff line by five yards, so players wouldn’t pick up as much speed as they ran at each other. Last year, the league cracked down on head-to-head hits to limit concussions. While there may be work underway to make some sports safer for players, fans don’t seem to care too much if they are.
Fights are a guaranteed way to get the crowd into the game when the gloves come off, fans tune in.

The Edina Hornets High School hockey team is led by a guy who has seen his fair share of fights. Curt Giles was a standout defenseman for the North Stars until 1991.

“I think fighting is part of the game that polices part of the game internally,” Giles said.

He said the throw downs on the ice seem to thaw the stick and elbow throwing we’d otherwise see throughout the game.

“Their whole role of fighting was to give some sort of support to other players like myself. We knew what their role was, they knew what their role was, but it’s a tough way to make a living,” Giles said.

Nicole La Voi is the associate director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport.
She said violence in sports has become a form of entertainment for fans.

“We like violence in sports because violence has been commercialized in sport. We’ve been sold the idea that violent hits and big and hard hits is something we should be excited about and we see therefore we value it,” La Voi said.

She believes it may be troubling as to what it says about us as a society that we like seeing people injured.
While fights aren’t allowed in high school or college hockey, there’s the thought professional sports wouldn’t survive without it.

La Voi believes we’d have to go through a cultural change for it to change.

“That’s not going to happen any time soon,” La Voi said.

La Voi says parents should be talking to their kids about the dangers of those hard hits and the lasting effects. She says it’s important to be protective when appropriate and that athletes should want to promote health and well-being rather than harm each other to keep games exciting.

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