On September 19th, 2018, the Montreal Canadiens and the Florida Panthers took the ice in what seemed to be a usual preseason tilt. Both clubs appeared set on ironing out their issues and moving one step closer to the NHL regular season. For the most part, the players played into this narrative, displaying a high scoring game with lots to marvel about in terms of skill. However, Canadiens’ Max Domi, son of Toronto Maple Leafs fan-favorite Tie Domi had other plans. These plans involved what can only be termed as assaulting Panthers’ defencemen, Aaron Ekblad. With the Canadiens losing 2-1 at the start of the third period, Max Domi in an almost random and very much unprovoked fashion got in the face of Aaron Ekblad and began lightly punching him with his left gloved hand in the face. The confused looking Ekblad began to plead to the referee to call a penalty on Domi, but before the referee took notice, Domi tossed his right glove to the ice and subsequently punched the unsuspecting Ekblad square in the face, sending him to the ground.
This event leads us to ask questions like, “When does violence in sport cross the line and go from a competitive display of toughness to a downright crime?” and, “Is the fact that men perpetuate these types of actions more times than not in the realm of sport and in regular life a societal issue?” In terms of the first question, don’t get me wrong, we are all aware that fighting is a prevalent thing in hockey that has its supporters and its opponents. However, whether you are a fan of fighting or not I would think you would have to agree with this fact: for there to be a fight, both parties must consent to the fisticuffs. This is because what makes violence in sport legal is consent and, without it, sports can offer a free pass to those who want to inflict violence on others. With regards to the second question, it is obvious that there are stereotypes about men being seen as weak and unattractive if not tough and physically strong. Furthermore, sport proves to be a place time and time again where typically male athletes try to solidify their identity as being such through violence.
I encourage you to look more closely at instances like these and ask yourself this question; “Why as a society have we grown numb to such occurrences in sports?”.