I’ve watched and read some nonsense in my time covering ice hockey, but BBC Northern Ireland presenter Stephen Nolan’s attempts to create controversy around fighting in ice hockey was on another level.
To set the picture, a skirmish broke out during Belfast Giants and Manchester Storm last week, which was nothing more than a few punches thrown, the officials stepped in and that was that.
The game was sponsored by PSNI, the police department in Northern Ireland and the game attended by an assistant chief constable as a representative.
Nolan tried to paint the picture of shock and sensationalism that a fight break out in a sporting event in front of the police and children in the crowd. After all, won’t somebody think of the children?
Instead of taking on board in both his radio and television show that fighting is part of the game and has its own rule – Rule 141 in the IIHF rulebook – he done his best Piers Morgan impression (don’t get me started on that guy) and talked over his guests, including Dr Victoria Silverwood, a leading expert on violence in ice hockey and someone on the panel who actually knew what they were talking about.
WATCH: The full “discussion” here
Punch-ups in ice hockey – is it time to call time on fighting on ice?
— Stephen Nolan (@StephenNolan) February 19, 2020
To call it a debate is being very kind and the discussion over it completely misses the point. As we all know, when fights break out, they are punishable with five minute penalties and it’s in a controlled environment.
Not to mention the personal codes of the players that they duke it out and when it’s done, it’s done.
I really hope Mr Nolan doesn’t tune into this weekend’s heavyweight boxing clash between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder otherwise he’s in for a real shock.
His assertion that it would be acceptable for his dear auntie to lamp a rival at a games of bowls or a fracas on a Saturday night is this context would be alright. As Dr Victoria tried so hard to get across, it’s completely different.
But then, that doesn’t suit his narrative, does it?
I’ve honestly watched and read some nonsense, including a blog post once from someone who claimed their team’s poor form was because of the music being played by the DJ, but this takes the biscuit.
It’s probably important to note to Mr Nolan, who acts with surprise at this issue yet worked for the Belfast Giants in their early days as their announcer, that fighting in the sport in general doesn’t happen as much as it used to and it’s great credit to the players that they’ve cleaned up their act in that regard.
Until now, I actually couldn’t decide whether or not to give Mr Nolan oxygen over his nonsensical debate, but if he’s got a platform to spout uninformed nonsense and use it, then so should I.
The difference is I have a level of understanding of the game so if he wants to invite me on to his panel to discuss what’s going on at Stormont, then I can make myself available.
I know nothing about it, but if his show is anything to go by, that doesn’t seem to be a pre-requisite.