We've noticed a disturbing change in the boys my sons age. They are all 5-6 years old, and some are starting to learn to play organized hockey. My son is not one of them (yet, maybe).
Before school starts in the morning, everyone is playing outside waiting for the bell to ring. Last year, they all played like little kids do, in a hectic disorganized manner.
This year, there's been a change. Some of the hockey boys have turned violent. For no discernible reason whatsoever they'll turn around and punch in the head the boy next to them. If they start wrestling there's noticeable attempts to inflict pain.
I know that at the level of hockey these boys are playing, there is no contact, heck they're still just learning to skate and hold a stick. So they can't be learning violence as part of that. But the divide still appears to be palpable between the non-hockey boys and the hockey boys.
I'm wondering if it's the NHL. I don't watch hockey that much (and if I do the boys are already in bed), but it's reasonable to expect that hockey parents are watching NHL games, and doing it with their kids. As everybody knows, there's a lot of violence in the NHL. While watching a game, we're cheering for a team, and when there's a fight, you want "your guy" to win. Kids will pick that up, and they're not going to see its only OK during a pro game. Hell, I have trouble accepting that distinction (I see no reason for allowing fighting in hockey).
So is the NHL encouraging boys to express themselves through violence? From what we've witnessed, it's plausible and it starts at a frighteningly young age.