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It is time to pay attention to head injuries in sports

Throughout the world in military conflicts, leaders are often encouraged to cut off the head of the snake. The action clearly calls for assassination. In Afghanistan and into Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, drone strikes have been used to eliminate many Al Qaeda leaders.
Over the past few days, football watchers have been surprised to see that a coach of the New Orleans’s Saints and probably the Washington Red Skins, paid bounties to players who made big hits on opposing players that effectively removed them from the game. Other players in the NFL have indicated that other teams may also have offered bounties as well.
This all took place while the NFL was supposedly paying more attention to player safety and in particular to head injuries. The league had toughened the rules and increased the severity of the fines.
As more is being learned about sports brain injuries, it will be interesting to watch how the NFL disciplines those teams and coaches who participated in the bounty hunting. In highlight reels, the hard bone crushing hits of quarterbacks and linesmen fill the two-minute clips weekly. In NHL the bone chilling hits are cheered in sports bars across Canada.
And now we know that some of those football hits were for blood money. No such scandal has yet found its way to professional hockey teams. Top players seem to be hurt more this season than in any other previous season.
And this is the lesson that is being passed down to the young people who play the game. Take a top player out of a game or series of games and your opportunities to win greatly increase.
In Monday’s edition of the Globe and Mail reporting on a study conducted by the University of Montreal has found that teenagers suffering from concussions showed that many had learning issues for up to a year after their brains were concussed. The study has found that many of the athletes had issues with working memory that function that allows one to read, watch television, and do math problems in the immediate time frame.
Without that working memory, students had problems with being successful in the classroom.
In the United States it is estimated that over 43,000 high school players endure a concussion during the school year. And annually several die as a result of head trauma.
Is sport reverting back to the days of the gladiators or the days of the Christians and lions? Has the pressure of winning at all costs including injuring other players replaced the humanity of enjoying the beauty of the sport?
Governor General David Johnston, who played university hockey with Harvard, has called on the National Hockey league and the lower leagues to put an end to all headshots in the game and an end to fighting. In the newspaper article he says, “ It’s an appropriate thing for me to talk about. I’m concerned about our children.”
“I think that headshots have no place in the game of hockey,” he added noting that when he was 16 he suffered from three concussions, two from football and one from hockey. He started wearing a helmet when real players did not wear any headgear.
And now with mounting medical evidence, it is time for hockey, football, rugby, and soccer to pay more attention to head injuries of the players.

–Jim Cumming,