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Concussions in sports – who’s to blame?

March 31, 2016   ·   0 Comments

One of the biggest crowd responses you will ever hear in a hockey arena is when a player is charging full tilt down centre ice and is stopped in his tracks by an opponent who manages to catch him looking the wrong way and delivers a devastating elbow to the head the turns the player in a 180 degree spin and leaves him sprawled across the ice.

The crowd loves that! That’s hockey for ya!

There’s been lot of talk in sports circles the past few years about the dangers of concussions in contact sports.

Some sports pretty much guarantee a brain injury.

If you decide to take up boxing or mixed martial arts where the object of the sport is to knock your opponent into unconsciousness, you’re pretty much assured that your gray matter is going to be wobbling around inside your cranium at some time.

Other sports like skiing have a reasonable degree or inherent risk of a head injury if you happen to make a wrong turn into a tree or catch and edge and go cartwheeling down the slope. A lot of people accept the risk because they enjoy the sport but err on the side of caution and wear a helmet.

Football was one of the first major team sports to take a serious look at concussions and for good reason.

In a game that goes beyond just contact and could be considered more of a collision sport, players for years were taught to keep their head down and use it as a battering ram to stop an opposing player. That resulted not only in head injuries but other sometimes very serious neck and back injuries.

Now the discussion about concussions has come to hockey and at a high level of the sport with lawsuits underway saying Leagues, including the NHL, didn’t do enough to protect players on the ice.

Yes, hockey is a contact sport and risk of injury ranges from moderate at low level house leagues to almost certain in various degrees when you get into the higher skilled leagues.

But who is really to blame?

The players blame the League for not taking head injuries seriously but when you look at what goes on during a game the players and coaches must shoulder the ultimate responsibility.

There is a penalty box for a reason. You actually are pulled from the ice and stuck in a box when you break the rules and your team plays short handed, and yet there is no shortage of penalties at all levels of the game.

It took years before they actually made head contact and hitting from behind a major penalty with transgressors being tossed from the game, but it still happens with regular frequency.

Concussions in hockey don’t usually happen from falling on the ice.

Head injuries on the ice almost always happen when a player gets his bell rung from an elbow to the head or bounces his noggin off the glass after taking a devastating hit against the boards from the shoulder of an opponent.

We all know every team has dirty players who don’t hesitate to hack an opponent or spear a guy in the corner when they think the ref isn’t looking or slam a player into the boards after the puck has already been passed.

Then there’s the goons who’s job it is to go after certain players on the ice and if necessary, take him out of the game.

Of course there are different degrees of violence in different leagues and different styles of play.

Some players play a clean game all the time focusing on their skills and rarely spend time in the box.

If players are concerned about concussions the place to start avoiding them is on the ice.

You can’t throw 200lbs of dead weight leading with an elbow into an opponent’s head then later complain that the League isn’t doing enough to stop it.

The culture on the ice must change beginning with the players and the staff on the bench.

No matter how much you complain to League officials, it is still the responsibility of individual players to look out for the safety of everyone else on the ice.

         

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