The National Hockey League has a problem.
Body checks and fights bring fans to arenas and television sets. But they also badly injure players.
If you are a parent, do you really want your son playing hockey or football? Do you like the idea of his brain being pounded around in its skull like a squash ball?
Hockey and football are expensive for parents what with equipment, ice time and travelling. Compare that to the rising popularity of basketball in Canada. New Canadians can identify with it and b-ball is cheap to play … sneakers, shorts, t-shirt … you’re done.
Remember that for people outside of Canada and the northern U.S. and Europe, hockey is non-existent. Basketball and soccer are known worldwide.
So it’s surprising that some people in the hockey world (not the most forward-thinking souls) are beginning to notice declining enthusiasm for hockey at the participation level.
All of this brings us to yet another serious concussion for Ottawa Senators’ forward Clarke MacArthur. He missed most of last season with a concussion and it looks as though he could be missing a stretch of this year’s campaign. Or he could lose his career.
MacArthur suffered his latest concussion when he was body-checked in a Senators inter-squad game recently.
It is heart-breaking to see a player of MacArthur’s calibre suffering through another serious head injury.
But he is not alone. Each NHL club each season generally loses on average two players a season to concussions.
The NHL has tried a few things to stop concussions. Measures such as no hits to the head and your skates cannot leave the ice when throwing a check. Obviously this isn’t enough.
If the NHL cannot successfully deal with concussions, its Canadian pool of talent will diminish.
Parents are simply going to say to their beloved children: “I don’t want you playing hockey because it is too dangerous.”
Forty-nine per cent of the NHL’s players are Canadian. If the NHL can’t solve problems such as MacArthur’s concussions, the game will be hurt badly.
It really will be too dangerous for parents to allow their children to play.
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