Fighting in hockey is appropriate

Except for soccer moms:

For some parents of the thousands of children at the Portland Pirates’ annual School Day game Tuesday, a fight that ended with the ejection of four players was too much.

“We were horrified by what we witnessed,” said Catherine Anderson, who attended the game with her 6-year-old son’s kindergarten class from Reiche School in Portland. “(My son) said, ‘Mommy, what’s happening?’ and I said, ‘These men are acting out of control and they’re making bad choices.’ And he said, ‘Why isn’t it stopped?’ “

It isn’t stopped, Child Who I Presume Must Be Named Quaint Little Timmy, because fighting is one of the ways in which hockey players police themselves. The refs can’t see everything; if a player is playing like an ass, he’s going to get punched. In 99% of the cases, a few scratches will be the biggest result. But without fighting, people like Matt Cooke would get away with stuff like this more often:

And that isn’t the first time.

Those sort of plays are extreme – Cooke should be suspended for no less than a year – but dirty hits are kept in check with clean fighting. That doesn’t mean fighting goes unpunished – it always results in a penalty. And that’s fair. These teachers just need some perspective: a self-policing action which usually results in a scratch or two at best is a good tool for keeping the actual gameplay as clean as it is.