It’s becoming more and more well documented that concussions are serious. Largely news of this reaches us from the sport of football and studies done on exNFLers. Which makes sense – the most likely sport for getting a concussion is football. And many footballers receive multiple concussions.
You can take this link to a more in depth article about those footballers, but largely it says that long term consequences of concussions can be very serious. First of all there is dementia, many footballers have serious dementia for the last 10, 20, 30 years of their lives. 3 or more concussions give a much larger chance for the footballer to experience depression than the regular public. If you play too soon after a first concussion, a player can die of 2nd impact syndrome. Between 1980 and 1993, 17 deaths were attributed to this.
Those are the most serious consequences. Also don’t forget that after a first concussion, it is much easier to get more concussions. As well, concussions lead to headaches and memory loss to further exacerbate things in the long run.
Professional sports have been slow to react to the long term effects of concussion. I write this in a bid to speed things along.
I’m not sure where football is going to go with all this, I pay more attention to hockey. There are now groups trying to eliminate head shots. And it would be hypocritical to allow fighting to proceed when this mainly is about blows to the head of opponents.
The information is so compelling that I now feel sympathy to millionaire hockey players. Previously I didn’t care to such a degree that I had cheered checks to Eric Lindros that ended with him having a concussion. Maybe this was rebellion in the nineties to all the press that he was “the Next One” i.e. The next Lemieux or Gretzky. Lindros had multiple concussions so he is at high risk for lifetime problems. I now feel for him and wish him well even though he still has many millions.
And “the Next Next One”, Sydney Crosby, has been out with a concussion for months and months. Just when it seemed he was starting to turn on the jets and really becoming as good as Gretzky and Lemieux (see his goal to win gold at the 2010 Olympics).
It’s become obvious that the big fast guys in the NHL are marking the Next Ones. They know that if they can hit them just right a glorious career can fizzle to mediocrity. I now fear a world without any Next Ones. Sure I liked Lemieux and Gretzky but I don’t want all their records to last in perpetuity. So some parts of the NHL are lobbying for no head hits and no fighting.
For little fighting we can thank the Europeans all these years for thinking ahead and making that a part of their game for decades. Indeed, I think Europe managed to curate a better hockey experience for decades, now. It’s time Canada took the lead in hockey again, got Don Cherry to do the penance of praising European leadership for the last long while and take it further. Canadians should make it so there are absolutely no head shots and no fights. If Don Cherry refuses to do an about face and take the lead on this, I say he needs to lose any soapboxes he has now.
Hockey, at least, can largely be played concussion free. I wonder if that’s even possible in football.