The list of players having recieved a concussion this season hit 23 this morning, according to a Globe and Mail report. This is concerning for a lot of reasons, none larger than the names that have made the list. Sidney Crosby, Ryan Miller, Claude Giroux all have found themselves on the shelf for some time this season with the dreaded C word. Consider that 2 of the top 3 scorers in the NHL this week are currently out of commision with head injuries, the alarm bells get louder.
The angst from most media outlets is understandable given the caliber of players that are being placed in the infirmary, but some of this outrage is misplaced. The line seems to have been drawn, and the sides could not be any more polarized. Anybody with concern for player safety is a treehugging hippie that wants hitting and fighting removed from the game. Anybody that thinks a lot of overreacting is some 17'th centruy neanderthal that probably can't read or write. And if you ask either, the group they oppose has no place in the game. But the truth is both groups are correct, to an extent.
Close your eyes and envision yourself in 1972. Green appliances, orange countertops, very thick carpeting. You might walk down the street and see a pregnant woman casually smoking. When you get to the gas station the fuel has lead in it. If you were to go to the bar and drive home drunk you may earn a $10 ticket.
Now open your eyes. It's like you were in the twilight zone. None of that is acceptable in todays world. Pregnant woman are chastized for smoking or drinking, unleaded gas left the earth shortly before Jimmy Carter left the White House, and while still a problem, I can't believe that anybody would'nt recognize that driving drunk is careless and stupid. So what happened in between.
People have evolved, learned from past behaviour, and adjusted accordingly (mostly). The same thing is happening now in sports, not just hockey. The medical community through years of research has figured some things out about head injuries, primarily the severity of them. Concussions existed in the game 5, 10, 20 years ago, but they were seldom diagnosed and even less frequently were they cared for properly. Part of this comes from the fact that they did not know how to care for them, and to a large degree, the medical community is still in the dark on how to properly address head injuries.
Should the game change to address this. This is where I get stumped, because as I said earlier, both arguments are valid. The players are employees of the NHL, and deserve the same safe work environment that a construction worker would. The other side of me says that they are adults that are engaging in a high risk activity, and participation involves the consent and knowledge that this may happen. The NFL is currently doing the same soul searching and they have yet to come to any conclusions.