Scoring goals in front of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ giant “mogul” goal posts? Going into the locker room in some sort of souped-up protective apparatus? These are the strange acts, now legal, that look and sound like things only a sport mad for violence could possibly make a sport.
In May, The Times Magazine took an amusing look at why the brutal sport of mixed martial arts became a family-friendly pop culture hit and how its rule changes over the past four years are leading to the return of some of the sport’s most controversial aspects. And despite the growing number of magazine covers and quick-draw boxing bouts, UFC president Dana White says he has yet to receive a call from a “smoking regulation agency” that could require his sport to come in line with the rest of the sporting world.
For Canadian hockey fans like Sportsnet’s Bob McKenzie, the games are becoming more innocent, too. According to the U.S. National Hockey League, little girls and women are having more fun playing broomball than anything “creepy” like the sport of boxing or the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the game that keeps the rest of the world guessing about the real nature of the sports.
“They’re figuring that they’re kind of more naturally suited to that type of sport,” McKenzie told the Times. “It’s like that it may be better for the kids to play a broomball or soccer game than it is to play a rough-and-tumble sport like fight against a tough guy who’s always got something up his sleeve.”
Looking to the future for a solution to the seeming contradiction between the sport’s brutality and its rise in popularity, McKenzie thinks a lack of officials in men’s hockey paves the way for the introduction of the youngest athletes, a move that could boost the sport’s popularity at a young age.
“I think one of the issues that they have,” he explained to the Times, “is that the game has been played almost like a bunch of old-timers have been playing it for the last 40 years, but kids don’t go into the NHL as naturally as kids did into soccer.”
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