PALO ALTO, CA—Shedding light on how hockey players convey information without an advanced verbal language, a study published this week by Stanford biologists has found that players may communicate by banging their sticks against wooden boards surrounding the rink. “We found that hockey players can use stick-banging to indicate anything from disagreement with a referee to encouragement of their teammates,” said lead researcher Dr. Margaret Cundiff, who explained that players typically strike the boards a single time with force when they want to display anger, or use multiple softer taps in order to display approval. “Sometimes, an entire bench full of players will begin banging the boards in unison—either signaling that a goal has occurred, or that the players want a goal to occur. This actually lets hockey players ‘speak’ to each other, if you will, in surprisingly complex ways far beyond what was previously anticipated. They are truly magnificent creatures.” The study also concluded that hockey fans’ common behavior of pounding their hands against the glass while emitting a series of guttural grunts serves no discernible purpose.
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