The recent deaths of NHL enforcers, Wade Belak, Rick Rypien, and Derek Boogaard have raised a lot of questions and concerns. See “Questions Linger Over Recent Deaths of Three NHL Enforcers,” San Jose Mercury News.
What role did concussions, if any, have in their deaths?
Did blows to the head from years of fighting lead to a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can be associated with depression?
Are hockey leagues and organizations doing enough to protect players from brain trauma injuries?
Is there any place for fighting and goon-like behavior in hockey?
Recent stories on concussions in sports have focused on football in general and the NHL in particular. But concussions are a serious issue in hockey and the NHL as well. Hockey superstar Eric Lindross never did return to his all-star level after multiple concussions. For years following a series of concussions, he suffered not only debilitating physical symptoms but life-altering emotional symptoms as well. See “Concussions: The Untold Story,” Macleans. The return to the ice of perhaps the NHL’s best player today, Sidney Crosby, remains uncertain due to post-concussive symptoms.
Hockey is a physical, sometimes violent game. That’s understood. But every safety precaution needs to be taken, especially when it comes to blows to the head. And that brings us to the topic of enforcers, goons if you prefer, whose primary job is to fight. See “The Worst Job in Sports,” Sports Illustrated, It’s a demeaning job, usually left to players without the pure hockey skills to earn a roster spot based on their hockey ability alone. Enforcers generally make teams because of their fighting ability and mentality. In light of the growing mound of research regarding the short-and-long-term effects of concussions in sports, hockey leaders need to seriously consider a complete ban on fighting.
For a more in-depth discussion of the issue of concussions in sports, see the League of Fans’ Sports Manifesto report, “Concussion Research Can’t Be Ignored.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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