The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On the Horns of a Hockey Dilemma

A number of my hocker sources have informed me that there was a brawl at the recent HAFTR/Magen David hockey semi-final playoff game. Apparently, with about 90 seconds to go and HAFTR up 2-0, one of the MD guys put a very aggressive hit on one of the HAFTR players who retaliated. The benches cleared and, I am told, all heck broke loose and there was fighting among players (and even parents). After order was restored, the game was called as it was, and HAFTR won 2-0.

As a keen observer of the human condition, I have been asked to weigh in on l'affair HAFTR/MD Brawl.

This is tough one (that really isn't). Normally, a player who is involved in a fight is automatically suspended from at least the next game (Indeed, when OYS was a senior, an opposing player viciously smashed him into a wall out of frustration and was suspended for the next game). So, do you suspend the entire team and forfeit the championship game? I think the answer is a resounding yes. This is one of those important chinuch moments where a strong administration has to step up and do the right thing, as painful as it is.

The only reason the decision is tough is because it penalizes innocent kids; i.e., the team from DRS who would much prefer to win the championship on the gym floor.

It will be interesting to see how the administration comes out but I don't see that they have any real choice.


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  • At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    About 20 years ago, the entire league was cancelled- for a few years- due in part to a brawl between MTA and one of the NJ schools. Interestingly, one of the main culprits on the MTA side is a big honcho in the league.

    Even after the league restarted, it took HAFTR a few additional years to come back.

    However, I doubt the schools will take the right/ aggressive approach and instead will do very little.

  • At 10:17 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    I don't disagree. I think the path is clear; I doubt they will take it (unless it is imposed by the league and I don't know how that would work).

  • At 10:37 AM, Blogger ThePeoplesChamp said…


    Your facts are wrong. The fight that canceled the next season was a playoff game between Sephardic and OTI. I know. I was there and involved.
    The one thing you did get correct is the location, which took place at JEC.

    The problem here is HAFTR was not the instigator, so no matter how wrong it was to retaliate, they are basically being penalized for being the victim of a team taking a cheap shot when the game was decided.
    The bigger issue here is the fact that parents were involved. I dont know about the situation, but if your facts are correct, the bigger chinuch issue is what do we do with the parents. It's one thing for kids to get out of control in an emotional, physical game such as hockey (being a former HS player nothing is more important in a kids life than winning that Championship and emotions do take over-rightfully or wrongfully).
    What is the parents excuse and what price do they pay? What lessons are they teaching their kids?

  • At 11:00 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…


    I hear your point but the rule is the rule. You can't countenance a leaving your bench to engage in a brawl no matter how aggressive the other kids were (and, believe me, I get the joke. OYS and his teammates were routinely mugged by players of far lesser talent).

    Your point about the parents, is, of course, well taken.

    And, don't get me wrong. I would really love to see the game go on if for no other reason than because it would stink for DRS not to be able to play.

    I just don't think it would be the right decision

  • At 11:36 AM, Blogger ThePeoplesChamp said…
    for a more detailed response

  • At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    thay should play the game but not allow fans - the kids can have fun, they can broadcast the game on the internet.

  • At 11:50 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    anon 11:38

    That would penalize the DRS parents (and those HAFTR parents who didn't lose their minds).

  • At 12:09 PM, Blogger Erachet said…

    Was this varsity or JV?

  • At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The People's Champ-

    I didn't say that the MTA fight was the cause of the league cancellation- I just said that it was one of the events.

    I was just pointing out the irony that a guy that once got into a fight (with a parent while in the penalty box if I remember correctly) could now be involved in making this decision.

    MoC- this leads back to last week's discussion if we're putting too much emphasis on Sports....

  • At 2:04 PM, Blogger YD said…

    I would expect no less than a brawl from a school that retired a living student's number.

  • At 3:00 PM, Blogger Erachet said…

    Maybe they should start the championship with a penalty, or the line playing at the time shouldn't be allowed to play?

  • At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    drs should play the number 4 seed (who they just beat) for the championship. in this way the two teams who fought are penalized and the game will be decided on the floor.

  • At 6:45 PM, Blogger Joe Schick said…

    If the NBA could enforce league rules and suspend five Knicks for their part in the 1997 playoffs brawl (costing the Knicks the series after they had taken a 3-1 lead), then a yeshiva hockey league can do no less.

  • At 10:08 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    I totally disagree with what the People's Champ wrote on his blog. Actions have consequences. Getting into a fight and leaving the bench to engage in a brawl is a violation of the most fundamental rule. I don't care how upset you are, you need to control yourself. If you aren't going to punish players for this, what will you punish them for?

    My old coach (yes, from a different age and a different sport) would most certainly have voluntarily forfeited the game (and there was no man more competitive than he). He was an ornery man with his own way but everyone respected him and knew that he was a man of principle. That seems to be gone here.

  • At 11:56 PM, Anonymous babyrabbi said…

    MoC- I agree with you wholeheartedly. Perhaps, though, there is a solution that would allow the league to have its cake and eat it too. In Europe, brawls and unruly fans are the order of the day in football (soccer) matches. In addition to fining teams whose fans get out of hand, FIFA routinely penalized such teams by prohibiting fans from attending their next match, and requiring them to play in empty stadia. Perhaps a similar penalty could be imposed here.

  • At 8:55 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    anon 11:56

    That would penalize DRS parents and students as well as the HAFTR parents and students who had nothing to do with the brawl.

  • At 9:20 AM, Blogger ThePeoplesChamp said…


    I am penalizing EVERYONE involved and I'm getting to the root of the problem. I'm also holding everyone accountable.
    By just suspending the players and forfeiting the game, only kids-who I said were 100% wrong- are getting punished. You are also punishing the innocent DRS crew and all the kids that had nothing to do with this.
    By having the kids and their over zealous parents sacrifice 2 nights a week to learning how to properly act in a way that is fitting to represent a yeshiva Sports team is a much more of a productive "punishment" than just having some kids being suspended for a game without learning anything. The whoile key here is accountability and if they see the unruly parents getting away with things they deduce there is no accountablity.

  • At 10:36 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…


    Your solution is also totally unrealistic. It will never happen. You think parents are going to attend anger management classes two nights a week? Never happen. They'd get too angry.

  • At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    MD made the semifinals? Really?

    Never would have happened in my day

  • At 1:32 PM, Anonymous YeshivaHockeyisNoSport said…

    hockey in yeshiva leagues is just an excuse to play the other school with sticks. it should not exist. If a kid doesnt make the basketball team or softball team, too bad.

  • At 1:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I completely agree with the previous poster. This isn't a hockey league where skating is such a significant aspect of the sport. It's a bunch of teens who basically lack any athletic talent, most of whom failed at basketball, running around on a gym floor swinging at a rubber ball. If it was up to me, I'd cancel the championship game and ban the "sport" forever.

  • At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    this is the email sent out by the commissioner:

    The Varsity Championship Game will be played as originally scheduled.

    HAFTR will be permitted to play their entire team.

    Disciplinary decisions regarding Monday Night's game will be addressed later under separate heading.

  • At 2:26 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    The last two commentators don't know what they are talking about. They have it completely backwards. Hockey became much more popular in the yeshiva circles and has, for a very long time, attracted the best athletes. Only the rejects from the hockey team play basketball. If the hockey team players wanted, they would replace 90% of the players on the basketball team (even without having ever played the game seriously). The only basketball players who would be left on varsity would be those few good athletes whose parents played basketball and forced their kids to play basketball because they didn't like hockey. (For example, OYS was the best soccer player by far in his age group growing up and, as small as he is, could have easily played point guard with just a little practice). Come down from your high horses, basketball players....You're not as good as you think.

  • At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    the last 2 posters are ridiculous- I played years ago for HAFTR- and from what I'm told the same is true now for DRS- more people want to play Hockey b/c its looked out as cooler and more fun (let alone that it allows for more playing time to be divided up).

    I would guess that neither of you have ever gone to a game or spoken to the players- until then don't waste everyone's time with such stupidity and ignorance.

  • At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was writing my last comment the same time as MoC and referred to the previous 2 posters before him :)

  • At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Popularity notwithstanding, most of the top athletes still play basketball over "hockey". Any top basketball player can also excel at "hockey". Few top "hockey" players can also excel at basketball.

  • At 4:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    First, I don't know all the facts, but think the league should definitely have suspended some players.

    Second, in reference to the hockey vs. Basketball debate, I think some of you are dating yourselves. I graduated from HAFTR around 9 years ago and many students played on both the hockey and basketball teams. It's not one or the other like it may have been 15-20 years ago.

    Also, the "coolness" of a team is in direct proportion to how good the team is. It's not cooler to play hockey, if you team is not good.

    Yes, yeshiva league hockey is not like roller or ice hockey, but it's still a fun and team oriented sport. The point of these leagues is to let the kids have some fun, learn some discipline, and learn what it means to be part of a team. I didn't get much playing time, but I had a lot of fun and learned a lot while playing.

    Last, at HAFTR specifically, all the sports teams have different names. I only learned in College that this is probably not the best practice for cohesiveness of the school and may have promoted some of the posts about hockey vs. basketball on this site. The moto of the college I went to is 27 sports, 1 team. That's what we should be teaching these students. Not the coolness of hockey vs. basketball.

  • At 5:35 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    anon 3:38.

    That may be the case in one or two schools, particularly among schools that have high concentrations of Sefardim where basketball is still popular. It's certainly not the case at most schools. And your premise that any top basketball player can excell at hockey but not vice versa is just plain silly. Most of the kids self-select at a very young age and concentrate on that sport. If a top hockey player were to concentrate on basketball, he would be a good basketball player. An athlete is an athlete. We're not talking about a league were you need to be 6'5" to be a basketball player.

    Anin 4:43

    It is one sport or the other at many schools. Some schools let seniors play both sports. Many do not even do that.

  • At 6:28 PM, Blogger ThePeoplesChamp said…

    Come on, anyone worth their salt knows Hockey is the "cooler" sport.
    It's why it was TPC's choice of sport in HS and still is :)

  • At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Different athletic skill sets are required for basketball and hockey.

    Basketball's is more difficult.

  • At 10:38 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    anon 10:27

    If that makes you happy, fine, but it isn't the point. That isn't the point. The best athletes are drawn to the sport that is more popular. They go to hockey camps, not basketball camps, because that's what they choose to do. Perhaps marginal players have more success at hockey than they would have at basketball but it is downright silly to suggest that the best athletes (like OYS) would not have excelled at basketball had they devoted their time to it rather than hockey.

    I am done with this discussion. It isn't even the point of the thread and I don't know why I let myself be drawn into this googy discussion.

  • At 1:08 PM, Anonymous YeshivaHockeyisnoSport said…

    You let yourself be drawn into the discussion because you like controversy - not reality. For all of you who say Hockey, hockey, hockey, it is fine to live and think and play, but it is also a joke. A top varsity basketball team is both more athletic and better coached. This is not to say that those who play hockey are not athletic and don't like the sport or 'coolness'. However, it is a sport that is played with far less skill than basketball or even real hockey. Running around slapping at a rubber ball while having your coach scream "KILL" is not and should not be a Yeshiva sport. At least at basketball games only the parents act irresponsibly and not coaches and players!!

    The Commissioner in this particular MD v HAFTR case, has committed a travesty. A rule is a rule and it was broken. Simple - HAFTR should not have been allowed to play those that left the bench. Period. DRS should protest the game purely based on rules. Maybe they can finally win something.

  • At 11:16 PM, Blogger Xiaozhengm 520 said…

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