Another week, another packed mail bag.
The fighting debate sparked anew in recent weeks figures prominently this week, with the battle raging on over the meaning of a Harris-Decima poll this week that showed a slight majority of Canadians - not necessarily Canadian hockey fans - support an end to fighting in the NHL. I’ve been gratified by the responses to the issue all week, both for and against fighting. When people are passionate but also respectful of the point of view of others, the quality of the whole debate goes up.
What seems pretty clear to me is that while both sides are passionate about their beliefs, I haven’t yet heard from a single person who once decried the presence of fighting in the game but now embraces it, while many have written to say they once didn’t mind boxing on skates but could now live without it.
Seems to me pro-fighting folks need to do a much better job as persuading others that they hold a logical position. Being louder isn’t working.
Now on to this week’s mail bag:
Q: Damien, I know my wife would vote against fighting in the NHL but, I also know that even if fighting were banned in the NHL, she wouldn't be buying a ticket to a game ever or watch it on TV. I don't think we should change the game to suit people who couldn't care less about it. Let’ ask hockey fans (the ones that pay the $$$ to watch) what they think and I'm sure the result would be different.
Dan Henry, Vancouver
A: Personally, I think it’s useful to know what people in general think, both rabid hockey fans and those who aren’t so rabid. I’m not really one for simply dismissing the thoughts of those who disagree with what I think. I think it’s worth trying to understand them, and put them in perspective.
From my point of view, I don’t dismiss at all the results of this latest Harris-Decima poll that showed 68 per cent of those who identify themselves as a passionate NHL fans want to keep fighting in the game. That said, from the way the fighting crowd talks, I would have thought it was more like 90 per cent, and it also means that basically 1 in 3 hardcore NHL fans could live without fighting. That’s a significant number that shouldn’t be ignored.
I agree the game shouldn’t be changed to fit the interests of those who don’t like hockey. At the same time, I think any sport should always be trying to build - not stay stagnant - and it’s a fact that in cities like Toronto fewer kids are playing the game today, which could affect the game over the long term. Really, I could just as easily say that asking people who already like a certain sport about a specific element of that sport isn’t going to tell you that much either. So the idea is to try and get a larger cross-section of public opinion, and see what that tells you.