Blood sport

Blood sport Re Time for the NHL to take a hit (the News, June 8): Rarely do I not wholeheartedly agree with the editor of the Yukon News. On the topic of hits and concussions in the NHL I am, this one time, of a different opinion. Not so much in regards

Re Time for the NHL to take a hit (the News, June 8):

Rarely do I not wholeheartedly agree with the editor of the Yukon News.

On the topic of hits and concussions in the NHL I am, this one time, of a different opinion.

Not so much in regards to attempting to eliminate dirty hits, and such. These health-and-safety issues certainly have to be addressed.

However, my question is whether any, or all rules meant to prevent these incidents will have the desired effect Ð eliminating serious injury.

The NHL is a professional league. In the words of many, the NHL is an industry. It employs people, the owners make profits, the merchandising rakes in millions, whole networks broadcast the games and earn advertising dollars and it even represents our most cherished national sport.

But like any other industry, despite a multi-tome collection of safety manuals and the involvement of professional and governmental agencies, physical harm cannot be prevented.

The Centre for the Study Of Living Standards published a research paper in 2006, titled Five Deaths A Day in Workplace Fatalities in Canada 1993 Ð 2005.

In the abstract, the authors write, “Two messages emerge from the study. First, the number of workplace fatalities in Canada is unacceptably high. Second, insufficient progress is being made in reducing the number and rate of workplace fatalities. Canada can do much better.”

I believe the editorial falls victim to is own premise: “This week, it’s Nathan Horton É Who’s it going to be next week?

“Perhaps your son or daughter.”

There is no direct link between the recreational hockey that our kids play and the “industrial” hockey, the profit-maximizing hockey, the bottom-line hockey played in pursuit of the Stanley Cup. This is a segment of hockey, unlike even Olympic hockey or World championship hockey, that is as much part of the “Entertainment Industry” as professional football, Broadway musicals or Hollywood movies.

As a general convention, we do not make connections between school theatre and Tinseltown, between a papermaking course at the community college and the industrial production of paper products in mega-factories, between tinkering with your soldering kit at home and the installation of hydro lines across the province.

The former are recreational activities, the latter are businesses and industries Ð workplaces for us, and operating within different parameters.

And while the former usually do not exact a toll on our physical health, the latter frequently do, in spite of century-long efforts to reduce the associated risks and the deaths and injuries.

Humanity has forever witnessed the transformation of any activity from innocent tinkering or recreation, to professional, profit-driven application.

We have, by-and-large, accepted this metamorphosis.

We have also become accomplices in the process by participating in a passive role; “spectator sports,” that is what we are supporting.

I am by no means suggesting not to draft rules, or even laws that will prevent death or injury.

But all we have to do is look at the number of reported injuries in the workplace here in the Yukon on the billboard in front of the Workers’ Compensation, Health and Safety Board here in Whitehorse to know that we may only limit the frequency of occurrences.

As long as we are willing to pay substantial amounts of money to attend these events, or even if we are just willing to spend six hours on Saturdays in front of our TV, we can be assured that the NHL will do its utmost to maintain our interest in their product and its share from the pool of entertainment dollars (as any other league of entertainment sub-industry will), which we are happy to put at their disposal.

As for the injuries and long-term consequences in professional hockey, I am tempted to cold-heartedly suggest people get injured and killed on the job in other industries all the time.

What is the big deal with NHL hockey players?

Berndt Schmidt


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