NHL hockey fights don't make economic sense, says study
Alberta economics professor says fans less tolerant of brawling than they were in the 1980s
There's a new argument in the fight against fighting in the NHL.
And it's not about health and safety, or even about setting a good example.
A study out of Alberta that was recently published in the online journal Applied Economics says violence on the ice isn't good for the bottom line.
"Fighting leads to more players in the penalty box and can reduce the performance of the team," said Duane Rockerbie, a professor of economics at the University of Lethbridge.
And Canadian fans, he noted, don't like that.
By crunching data from 13 NHL seasons, Rockerbie found that fighting actually reduced attendance and revenue for Canadian clubs.
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Even when factoring in external influences like aggressive marketing and new arenas, Rockerbie says Canadian hockey fans would rather watch players show off their skills than satisfy a lust for blood.
Fighting on decline
Rockerbie says hockey brawls reached their peak in the early 1980s but have been on the decline ever since.
"The incidence of fighting now is about one-third of what what is was in the NHL at that time."
He suspects that's partially due to fan preferences, but also the economics of the game.
With multi-million-dollar salaries on the line, general managers can't afford any unnecessary concussions.
"There isn't a lot of room any more for players who specialize in violence and fighting."
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