Sunday, February 13, 2011

A pre-emptive shot at "head-shots" in both NHL and NFL

By Kevin McGran Toronto Star, February 12, 2011
The NHL might have been hoping to change the conversation from blindside headshots and concussions, the league’s not going to be any happier the debate now is over fighting....
“It started with bad hits and it sets guys off,” said  (Toronto Maple Leaf, Clark) MacArthur. “The water is going to boil when someone takes a head shot or hit from behind.
No, Mr. McGran, the conversation has not moved from "head shots" to fighting. It has to move to league leadership and the impotence with which the extreme violence is being addressed.
With the league's most valuable player, Sidney Crosby, sidelined since January 6 with post-concussion syndrome (after being hit January in an outdoor game in Pittsburgh against Washington), and several deliberate "head-shots" from different players in different games since that date, the statement today from the NHL's disciplinarian, Collin Campbell, to the effect that deliberate "head shots" will be punished with suspensions, it is clear that the league is impotent, eunuched, castrated, spine-less and remove this tumour from the game. Simply put, the culture of abuse of the worker by owner/management has reached its natural conclusion; when people at work are considered no more important or valued than the sticks in their hands, both being easily replaceable, with impunity, with the encouragement, endorsement and applause of both the advertisers and the season's ticket purchasers, then we cannot be surprised when the jungle-dictates of the "extreme" version of all games has taken over.
The commodification of the sport of hockey is merely the natural extension of the commodification of everything else in our society...the selling and buying of politicians, the selling and buying of political philosophy and the "bills" that burp themselves from this swamp, the buying and selling of religion, morality, ethics and even human relationships not to mention the buying and selling of every single position in every single corporation in every single state and province....and career-ending "head-shots" are going to increase so long as those 'in charge' meet out bland "slaps on the hands' to the perpetrators.
When the owners/managers of the NHL teams care so little about their best players, (remember Eric Lindros) like Crosby, who generate more revenue in all arenas in all cities individually than some teams  do through their complete roster, then the blinders of profit and short-term gain have closed the eyes of wisdom, maturity and the custodianship of the game. There is even some suggestion that Crosby may not return for the balance of the season, and even for the playoffs.
(Note to Mr. Crosby: Please consider your long-term health, and the long-term health of the game you love, along with so many of us fans, including the option of never returning to the professional league, in the interests of the long-term survival both of yourself, and the game we all love.)
It is time for the corporate slaves of both the NFL and the NHL, the players, to demand that their lives, their careers, both during and after their athletic careers are over, and their health trump the needs of the league for the profits that acccrue from their innocent sacrifice to the thugs who shorted both their lives and their careers through "head-shots" that maime and eventually kill.
The current collective labour agreement in the NFL is about to expire and the negotiations so far, have focused on the percentage of increased revenue that goes to players' salaries. Those negotiations should and could turn on the question of how to remove head shots from the game, so that both it and the players will continue to live in some semblance of tranquillity and harmony.
From the Globe and Mail Editorial, January 21, 201
The Pittsburgh Penguins blew it. Spectacularly, ingloriously, blew it by failing to protect Sidney Crosby, the “franchise,” after a devastating hit to the head on New Year’s Day. But maybe they did athletes a favour by highlighting the massive ignorance around concussions in sports.
After watching in horror as Mr. Crosby was felled by a mammoth blow, lay on the ice, dropped his mouthguard, stumbled to his feet, skated hunched over to the bench and then returned to the ice, possibly with a brain injury – who could possibly think their sons or daughters will be protected after absorbing a similar blow in youth sports?

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