There are an increasing number of retired athletes who have been diagnosed posthumously with a degenerative disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Researchers at several centers around the country are studying this disease, its cause and progression. The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy in Boston states that CTE is the only preventable form of dementia. Ninety percent of confirmed cases have been in retired athletes. Athletes who have a history of multiple concussions have a higher incidence of dementia and dementia-related diseases later in life.
September 11, 2012
With the NHL season looming, DH and I have made the decision that we’ll be boycotting the league this year (although they might be doing it themselves if things don’t get straightened out).
It’s a tough decision – we used to love watching hockey. But, in the last couple of seasons we’ve found it has really gone downhill with the lack of consistency with penalties (especially those involving headshots and unnecessary violence) and the “old boy” feel of the game commentary (calling players girls/pussies/gay because they don’t fight, etc.). Raising a little boy has really made us become more aware of how bad it is, and we don’t want that around him.
Even after a Calgary ruling to increase the age at which hockey players are allowed to bodycheck, junior leagues across the country are still allowing children as young as 11-12 years old to do it during a game (source: Winnipeg Free Press). This is even after a study came out that found hockey players younger than 13 were 3 times more likely to suffer concussions or major injuries if bodychecking was part of the game.
It’s now well-known that concussions are incredibly serious injuries. They are cumulative over a lifetime and can have troubling long-term effects:
(source – emphasis is mine). In addition, it seems that concussions are much more harmful to a teenage brain, when it’s still deep in development mode.
Crosby’s concussion – a result from a hit from David Steckel during the January 2011 Winter Classic – seemed to be changing things in the minor leagues, but Steckel himself was not punished for the hit. Crosby ended up playing a few days later, even though he was injured, and suffered another headshot from Victor Hedman (also not punished). A year later, he was still not concussion symptom-free. Yet, even though it’s talked about in NHL circles, nothing seems to be changing. Hell, even one of the main page features on the NHL site is about the “biggest hits” from last season.
For us, enough is enough. We’ll stick with sports where unnecessary violence is taken seriously and penalized appropriately.