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Violence in Sports
Original title:  Archives Photos of the Day: Hockey » Vancouver Blog Miss604

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Montreal dentist William George BEERS was an ardent promoter and organizer of lacrosse and he established its rules. His attempts to reduce the violence of the game were not entirely successful:

“In his youth Beers avidly studied matches between the Indians of Saint-Régis (Akwesasne) and Caughnawaga (Kahnawake) in the Montreal area, but he could not accept their wild, often violent, style of play. The game, he concluded, required rationalization. In 1860 he published a brochure that laid down basic rules and established field size, the distance between goals, and the number of players per side. Lacrosse subsequently began to enjoy wide popularity among whites.…

“… Beers’s pioneering effort in its development and promotion provided a model, at the time, for the organization and administration of other sports in Canada.

“Yet Beers was aware of the problems lacrosse would face if ‘a common perversion of the game,’ the use of brute force and rough play by ‘unscientific and young players,’ grew. His efforts to eliminate violent play while retaining virile body contact, however, were doomed to failure at a time when ethnic and religious conflict found an outlet in matches between teams from antagonistic groups; in the early 20th century the game declined in popularity.”


William Wright BREEN made a name for himself as one of the best hockey players, whether amateur or professional, in Manitoba at the beginning of the 20th century. There, as elsewhere in Canada, the sport was notorious for its violence:

“During 1907-8 and 1908-9 Breen played in a professional hockey league in Manitoba. The league was not successful, and it ceased to operate early in 1909. It experienced difficulties that were common in early professional leagues in many sports: extremely violent games, ‘fixed’ matches or at least allegations of ‘fixing,’ players and owners who broke contracts or agreements, and teams which folded part way through a season.”


Biographies listed below contain information about violence in sports and the efforts of some individuals to eliminate it:

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