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Fighting, winning, promotions, and attendance in the ECHL

Rodney J. Paul (Department of Sport Management, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA)
Andrew P. Weinbach (Department of Accounting, Economics, and Finance, Coastal Carolina University, Conway, SC, USA)
Daniel Robbins (Department of Sport Management, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, USA)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 11 May 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of fighting (in addition to other variables) as it relates to attendance at minor league hockey games (ECHL).

Design/methodology/approach

Building upon previous research on hockey attendance, a regression model is specified with attendance as the dependent variable and fighting (measured as a running average of fights-per-game) as an independent variable. The sign and statistical significance of fighting is tested through the regression model.

Findings

Despite recent tragedies in the hockey world and public outcries against fighting, fighting is found to have a positive and significant effect on attendance at ECHL games.

Practical implications

Findings suggest that if fighting is removed from hockey in North America that teams will suffer attendance wise and it will hurt the overall profitability of teams and leagues. Teams in the ECHL that do not fight often may wish to have more “enforcers” on the team which would increase the number of fights and increase attendance.

Social implications

Despite calls for its outright ban, fighting is popular with hockey fans. Even in a world where many game-day promotions are aimed at families, fighting appears to have a place in the game and is a desired attribute of this sport in terms of its entertainment value to fans.

Originality/value

First study of the ECHL (AA-equivalent minor league for professional hockey) on a game-by-game basis. This paper examines the role of fighting and violence in the world of professional sports. The regression model also includes highly detailed data on game day promotions used by all of the teams. The value of the paper lies in the public debate about fighting in hockey. The findings and implications of this paper are also of value to team and league management as it relates to fighting in hockey.

Keywords

Citation

Paul, R.J., Weinbach, A.P. and Robbins, D. (2015), "Fighting, winning, promotions, and attendance in the ECHL", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 139-156. https://doi.org/10.1108/SBM-09-2012-0035

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited