Monday, April 9, 2007

And now, the fans have spoken!

Damien Cox, say what you will about believing internet polls when it comes to fans' support of fighting in hockey, but I have found a good one.

Once a year, the NHL Fan Association (NHLFA) conducts a poll of its 29,500 members. Questions range from the rule changes, to proposed rule changes, to how good of a job Gary Bettman is doing, whether the game is better now than before the lockout, thoughts on the current CBA, and of course, everyone's favorite, what place fighting has in the game of hockey. This year's Fan Survey consisted of 59 questions. Nine of those questions dealt with fighting in some way. Rather than give you the entire survey, here's a link, and now the nine fight-related questions.

Please choose a number from 1 to 7, indicate whether you agree (7) or disagree (1) with the institution of this rule. A player who instigates a fight in the final five minutes of a game will receive a game misconduct and an automatic one-game suspension. The length of suspension would double for each additional incident and the player's coach will be fined $10,000 - a fine that will double for each such incident.
7 - 13%
6 - 7%
5 - 8%
4 - 10%
3 - 8%
2 - 11%
1 - 39%
Don't Know - 2%
In other words:
This rule is more bad than good: 58%
This rule is more good than bad: 28%
Fence-sitters: 12%

Do you think the NHL should consider dividing its television broadcasts into two distinct sports entertainment products? For example, one would contain a sanitized, non-violent version for family viewing. No coverage of fights, violent acts or arguments. The other version would be rated "R" and targeted to a fan base that enjoyed the violent side of the sport. The "R" version would provide fight analysis and ice-level audio of players' chatter.
9% Yes
81% No
4% Don't know
4% No opinion

What one action would most help the NHL increase its fan base in the U.S. market? (Note: other choices were removed for lack of space, you can see them all on the full survey)
1% remove fighting entirely
0% reduce fighting dramatically

Should fighting be banned from the NHL?
4% Yes
91% No
1% Don't know
2% No opinion

Do you think the NHL should take steps to reduce the number of fights in NHL games?
11% Yes
83% No
2% Don't know
2% No opinion

Do you think the NHL should take steps to reduce the players designated on each team that only fight and play less than six or seven minutes a game?
19% Yes
72% No
3% Don't know
3% No opinion

Do you think the NHL should explore ways of preventing a designated fighter?
23% Yes
70% No
2% Don't know
3% No opinion

Do you think the NHL should issue a two minute penalty to teams if they have a player who accumulates more penalty minutes in a regular season game than minutes played? For instance, if Donald Brashear had seven minutes in penalties in a game and at the end of regulation play he had played only six minutes, the team would go into the five minute overtime (if tied) with a two minute penalty kill.
13% Yes, I like this solution
3% Yes, this is on the right track, but there are better ways to penalize teams at the end of games than the aforementioned proposed format
77% No, teams should not be penalized for such transgressions
3% Don't know
3% No opinion

Regardless of your stance on fighting, do you think the NHL is limiting its growth in the United States because it contains fighting?
8% Yes
83% No
5% Don't know
2% No opinion

In the past month, we have learned the players overwhelmingly support fighting. Today we discover the fans support it as well. Commissioner Gary Bettman has come out in support of it.

So why does the media still insist it needs to go?


Anonymous said...

Bettman's done a terrible job!!!


1) We as usual agree whole heartedly with your post!
2)We posted on the NHLFA's poll as well. What we added to our response to the results was the fact that despite what we feel were slanted questions fans STILL came out overwhelmingly endorsing fighting!
3) We saw the questions were written in such a way as to get a desired response (anti-fighting)yet fans are SO passionate about retaining this vital aspect of the game that they disregarded this subtle attempt to influence and voted loud and clear: We want fighting to continue/increase!

Drew said...

I didn't feel the questions were really slanted at all. For the most part, the fighting-related questions were straightforward. I've seen far more slanted polls than this in the sports media. Either way, the fans have proven to support fighting on roughly a 4:1 scale.

Anonymous said...

The overwhelming majority of owners, GMs, PLAYERS, and fans all agree that fighting has its place in hockey. It isn't going anywhere. The league would suffer big time without it. No fighting Europe is fine... not in the States.