At a time when his league is still reeling from the deaths of three enforcers last summer, all of whom reportedly suffered from depression possibly associated with repetitive blows to the head, and at a time when the rest of the sports world is looking for ways to lessen head trauma, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently said fighting is not a big issue for the NHL. In fact, a ban on fighting was not even considered at the NHL’s board of governors meetings earlier this month.

“Our fans tell us that they like the level of physicality in our game,” Bettman said at the NHL’s meetings, “and for some people it’s an issue, but it’s not as big an issue in terms of fans and people in the game to the extent that other people suggest it is.”

The NHL, in an effort to defend the barbaric tradition of allowing fighting in its sport, says there’s no solid evidence that fighting is dangerous and increases the risk of degenerative brain disease.

And while there’s currently no conclusive proof to that end, “that debate is on a scientific level. On a practical level, there is no debate that banging your head is bad for your brain. It’s common sense,” says Nicholas J. Cotsonika in his Yahoo! Sports article entitled, “Fighting Back: NHL Holds Ground on Fisticuffs.”

It’s past time that Bettman and the rest of the NHL’s executives come out of the stone age and ban fighting.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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