While I have never been a big fan of hockey fights, I nonetheless always accepted them as part of the game. This book has made me rethink that position and it is one I highly recommend for anyone who wants to see less or no fighting in the sport. Here is my review of “Major Misconduct.”
“Major Misconduct: The Human Cost of Fighting in Hockey” by Jeremy Allingham
Ice hockey, professional
November 5, 2019
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
It has long been accepted by many in hockey that bare-fisted fighting is a part of the game. Whether new fans, traditionalists, players, owners or anyone else, that thought has rarely been challenged. However, journalist Jeremy Allingham does question that fighting is good for the game in this thought-provoking book.
One of the best aspects of this book is that Allingham approaches the subject from multiple angles. He interviews experts on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and gets their views on how fighting will put a player at risk for this condition. He speaks to former players and other people involved in the game for their input. But his best work is his detailed account of the post-hockey life of three former players whose hockey careers were mostly in the role of an enforcer, the player who will fight most often to either protect the team’s most skilled players or to send a message of intimidation to the opponents.
The stories of James McEwen, Dale Purinton and Stephen Peat will bring out many emotions. Their stories of how broken their lives became after retirement is not uncommon among their brethren – sometimes with more tragic results. In the case of all three of these men, they are all suffering to some degree of the effects of CTE, they were all clinically depressed and at times sought relief with alcohol or illicit drugs. It is noteworthy that each of them, however, are thankful for what the sport gave them and in the case of McEwen, even became an activist in trying to educate people in the dangers that are present in hockey fighting.
What is also impressive about the book is that Allingham doesn’t just state that fighting in the game is bad and what the negative effects are – he also presents realistic and meaningful solutions to address this aspect. These most are in the form of harsher penalties for fighting in the form of suspensions. At some levels of the game, such as American college hockey, they have proven to be a deterrent. While Allingham does acknowledge that the amount of fighting in hockey has decreased in recent years, his book is a call to action for all hockey people to take a harder look at this issue and do what is right for both the game and the players and eliminate this part of the sport.
I wish to thank Arsenal Pulp Press for providing a copy of the book via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review.
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