Just the other day, the New York Times released an article which further proved the relationship between the NFL and the degenerative brain disease, CTE.
Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist, studied 111 brains from former NFL players. Out of those 111 brains, all but one of them had CTE.
To many people, this article was shocking.
To me, it was anything but.
The connection between head trauma and detrimental effects to the brain have been there in plain sight for many years.
Many sports fans have just chosen to ignore it.
I say sports fans, because it would be naive to think that CTE only applies to football.
There’s another mainstream contact sport that is just as physical as football.
Of course, I’m talking about the NHL.
In fact, the NHL is even worse at acknowledging head injuries than the NFL.
Hockey’s most prominent league is currently facing a concussion lawsuit.
However, that hasn’t set in with the league’s player safety department.
NHL Player Safety continues to shy away from punishing players for hits to the head.
The sport actually seems to promote the violence as much as possible, especially when the playoffs roll around.
The NHL has plenty of skill to sell, particularly in their best player, Sidney Crosby.
Crosby will go down as one of the all-time greats.
He is one of those players that non-hockey fans tune into watch during the playoffs.
You’d think the NHL would do its best to help Crosby thrive on the biggest stage.
Sure, the NFL is incompetent, but they give their stars every chance to succeed.
They tailor the sport to protect and promote quarterbacks at all costs.
On the other hand, the NHL does their stars no favors.
Instead of their stars, the NHL promotes barbarity.
Hits from behind have become commonplace.
Headshots are overlooked and receive minuscule punishment.
The Player Safety Department is inconsistent and fails to crack down when it needs to.
Hockey actually defers to having designated enforcers as their safety system.
Bigger, stronger guys to punch each other in the face after a player takes a hit to the head.
On top of all that, ESPN SportScience found that an NHL hit is 17% harder than an NFL hit.
If anyone thinks that CTE only applies to football, they’re wrong.
The NHL will pretend that CTE doesn’t apply to them as long as they’d like.
They are the most tone deaf organization in all of professional sports.
But the evidence will come out, sooner than later.
I love hockey, but there are risks to playing this game.
Denying your players knowledge of those risks is despicable.
Players like Sidney Crosby, Pat LaFontaine, and Eric Lindros aren’t just players.
They’re people that have to continue their lives after hockey.
Leaving your players susceptible to head trauma for the sake of selling savagery is loathsome.
Players should be educated on all the risks of the game, as soon as possible.
Then, measures need to be taken to protect these players at all costs.
The NHL is doing neither of those.
Some things are more important than the sport itself.
The NHL should prioritize those things, before they’re the ones hit by a blindside.