Timely Reality Check as Cops and Firemen Pound Each Other at a Charity Hockey Game


Police-firemen brawl

Fights at hockey games are a long tradition—they were a big part of the draw when my buddies and I bought Rangers tickets back in the day. Fans now share their favorite fight videos online. Rivalry between police and fire departments also has a long history, with the "battle of the badges" considered by professional worriers to be a major barrier to coordinating emergency services. So when New York's "bravest" and "finest" took what Governing magazine calls a "uniquely tense relationship" onto the ice for a charity hockey game, the result was a fight video for the ages—and a glimpse inside the human flaws of government employees Americans are told time and again they owe respect.

The score was tied 3-3 when the fight broke out (the cops went on to win 8-5, for what it's worth). As Governing's John Buntin put it in that 2005 battle of the badges piece, "cooperation was not as effective as it could have been."

Great Police Riot
Valerian Gribayedoff/Public Domain

But cooperation even between police departments has sometimes been just as ineffective. When the city-controlled Municipal Police and the state-led Metropolitan Police duked it out over who would be official keepers of the peace in 1857 New York City, 53 men were injured in the resulting Great Police Riot. That battle of the badges ended only with the intervention of the state militia.

Unfortunately, no video of the event is available.

Rivalry and elbow-throwing aren't a special feature of government agencies, but they do take a more serious turn when employees of the state with special authority and powerful resources are involved. That's especially true when those employees are of the sort that the public is constantly hectored to show respect and even deference—a category that seems to cover all government workers these days.

Police officers and firemen are human beings. They deserve respect when they earn it; they deserve skepticism and disdain when they don't. Video of them turning a charity event into a gladiatorial match is a timely reminder of that reality.

Speaking of which… Grab some popcorn and check out the video below.

And for a wider view of the action, here's a different perspective.

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  1. Nice chant from the crowd.

    1. I couldn’t quite hear the words.

  2. Police officers and firemen are human beings. They deserve respect when they earn it…

    And they earn it by getting hired. I’m really surprised no player was arrested at or after that game. I’d bet players from one particular team was threated with arrest during the fight.

    1. The other got a paid vacation.

      1. OMG they are the absolute worst. Except for Flyers fans.

    2. “I’d bet players from one particular team was threated with arrest during the fight.”

      Here come speeding tickets!

    1. I went to a fight, and a hockey game broke out.

    2. I’m no sports fan. So the only pro hockey game I’ve been to was back in the late 80s, when our high school band teacher took us to Boston. Think it was Bruins vs Maple Leafs. Anyway, a fight broke out and a ref got laid out flat when he tried to break it up. By the time it was over there was a significant red spot on the ice.

  3. Where’s the team of 50 referees with guns and riot gear to break up this melee? How do you impose and maintain order without a display and exercise of overwhelming force?

  4. OT: http://equalityontrial.com/201…..aphy-case/

    Supreme Court declines to hear Elane Photography case

    1. You’re not free unless you can sue someone for saying “No.”

  5. I can’t believe I shook his frikkin hand…

  6. I would’ve armed the fire department to the teeth with brass knuckles and spiked boards just before the game.

    1. They should do Rollerball or a Death Race.

      1. It only took me 5 minutes to post that one sentance using my android phone Reason.


    /stomp stomp stompstompstomp

  8. The host has only so much blood to spare.

    The parasites are forced into fierce competition.

    1. I respect firefighters to a certain degree. Unlike the police, they do actually risk their lives and help people.

      1. Big city departments, in particular, face death in old crappy buildings, industrial fires, etc.

        I’d bet the FDNY dead outnumber the cops.

        1. So what? It’s been widely reported that fire fighting is a risky endeavor. If they can’t/won’t accept that, look for other work.

          They’re not “heroes” any more than I used to be racing sports cars. Accept the risk or be on your way. They are doing what appeals to them and factoring in the risk.

  9. Unfortunately, no video of the event is available.

    So, just like real life, dash cams were mysteriously off.

  10. Fighting generally only happens when the participants care about the game, and the more they care, the more likely they are to fight.

    When I watch baseball, basketball, and football, I often get the feeling that the fans care more about the outcome of the game than some of the players do.

    You don’t get that feeling as much in hockey. Sure, it happens some, but it happens a lot less in a sport, where after you’ve lost badly, you’re expected to demonstrate to the paying fans that the game mattered to you in some way.

    Hockey is a different game, and the expectations of how to behave honorably are different. Standing there and doing nothing while one of your teammates is being mistreated is not considered honorable.

    That’s the same in the NHL, when cops and firemen are playing each other, and for kids playing on a pond after school.

    Calling the cops or looking for an authority figure to fight your battles for you, every time someone mistreats you, likewise, might not be the most libertarian way to behave either, as long as you accept that there can be consequences to sticking up for yourself.

    1. Hi, life-long hockey player here.

      Hockey is a different game, and the expectations of how to behave honorably are different.

      And a bench clearing brawl, or even just one fight, is not honourable behaviour for a charity game.

      1. False. You shouldn’t forget the importance of entertainment.

        1. True. Make this a tradition, and ticket prices will head for the sky.

      2. “And a bench clearing brawl, or even just one fight, is not honourable behaviour for a charity game.”

        Sort of depends on what happened that started the fight, doesn’t it?

        The rules aren’t any different just because when you slapped my girlfriend, we happened to be at a charity ball.

  11. “battle of the badges”

    More like battle of the craft unions.

  12. “the cops went on to win 8-5, for what it’s worth”

    Damn right they did.

    1. Plus, they went home safe. Double win.

  13. During a 40 minute commute you’ve got a lot of time to think, so I may be losing my shit or having an inspired thought….

    Cops are like boats. There is a certain romance and imagery associated with boats, that comes from TV and movies. Rich guys have yachts, James Bond is in a power boat every movie etc. Anyone who has every owned a boat knows the reality is vastly different.

    So it is with cops, a completely idealized view from TV and movies where every cop is a Tom Selleck or a Mark Harmon. Reality is vastly different.

    1. How can you talk about TV cops without mentioning Shatner? Show some TJ Hooker love, dammit.

      1. OK gramps

      2. Selleck? Shatner?

        I’ve got two words for you:

        Chuck. Norris.

  14. There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that, during the fight, the police kept screaming, “Stop resisting!”

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