I know how big hockey is in Minnesota. I respect that.

In fact, I’m a big hockey fan myself – I grew up in Chicago, so naturally I’m a Blackhawks fan (sorry Wild fans), and I’ve been to a number of NHL games. I also watched several Chicago Wolves games, a minor league team based in Rosemont, Illinois. When I lived in Milwaukee, I attended a few Admirals games as well (also minor league). So, I’ve seen my fair share of hockey.

Since I’ve lived in Alexandria long enough, I figured it was time to check out the hockey culture.

I was impressed by the arena and the number of fans who attended. For a town on the smaller side, NA3HL hockey really is well-attended, and the arena is well-kept.

The game started just like I thought it would; the teams were playing hockey. However, it wasn’t long until I saw the game’s first fight break out on the ice.

These young men were throwing punches, beating on each other. Anyone who’s gone to a Blizzard game can confirm this is a regular occurrence, sometimes even several times per game. However, it was something I’d never seen before in quite this amount during a game of hockey, in any other league. Most games I’ve seen haven’t had any fighting at all.

Some time during the second or third period, one of the Alexandria players involved in a fight was waving to the audience to get louder. It seemed he was enjoying the fights taking place and thrived off of the audience’s energy.

It was frightening to watch. One of the visiting players ended up doing a somersault, winding up in a headstand against the wall because of a fight. I was worried for his health and safety. Fights like these could lead to concussions, mental health problems and even death in extreme conditions.

Hockey can be played normally and the audience can still have fun without fighting. No one has to get hurt, either – some of the players involved in fights were taken off the ice due to injury or because they got a penalty from it. It’s not worth getting hurt or having to sit out a penalty just for a little audience excitement. If people want to watch a fight, they should go to a boxing match or a wrestling match.

It seemed almost immature to me. “Fight” the other team by playing the game. Throwing a punch isn’t going to do anything. It’s not going to stop the other team from scoring or make already earned points disappear. It’s just going to create anger.

It also sets a bad example for children, who were plentiful at the game. Fighting glorifies violence, which is perpetuating the violent culture we live in.

There aren’t regular fights in baseball, soccer, golf, tennis, volleyball or basketball. Why do we allow them in hockey?

• • •

“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.