Monday, December 05, 2011

Fighting to the Death

The NYT has a multi-part series on the life and death of feared hockey enforcer Derek Boogaard, dead of drug overdose at 28. At 28 his brain was already in advanced state of destruction by chronic traumatic encephalopathy - likely the result of repeated concussions. His path was an accelerated version of that of many hockey enforcers, combat, brain damage, personality change, addiction and death.

Unfortunately, hockey is not the only sport where athletes are battered to an early and often agonizing death - boxing and football frequently suffer similarly serious brain damage. Even the relatively gentler sport of soccer tends fo inflict head injury, albeit in a less direct fashion. Repeatedly heading a soccer ball can cause brain damage too.

Ironically, hockey, one of the most dangerous sports, would be relatively easy to make safer - just adopt strong penalties against fighting. This won't happen from inside the NHL, because the league and it's owners think blood on the sand produces money in their pockets, and the fans agree.