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Other Opinions: And in this corner, it's hockey vs. fighting

The old line about going to a boxing match and a hockey game breaking out got a new twist Saturday night. Primetime viewers could turn to NBC to watch Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings, or flip to CBS for mixed martial arts, the hot fighting sport that has fought its way from obscurity and condemnation to primetime prominence.

Nationally, viewers preferred watching the MMA's cage matches over hockey. Locally, however, the state of hockey upheld its heritage, and the Stanley Cup Finals won the ratings race.

Those concerned over violence in sports, let alone in society, will shudder to think that the National Hockey League is now the safer, more regulated option. Of course, sports evolves along with the rest of society, as what was once back alley is now Main Street: Rapper Snoop Dogg, once acquitted of murder charges, does a Chrysler commercial with Lee Iacocca. In sports, the bad-boy image of snowboarding is forgotten as "our boys and girls" win Olympic medals.

The ratings results have to thrill CBS, which avoids the spiraling fees networks negotiate for the right to telecast most sports. Conversely, it has to concern NBC, which two months from now will broadcast the summer Olympic games from Beijing. After all, how does a network market fencing when an audience's tastes run more toward knife fights? -- Minneapolis Star Tribune