The Mayo Clinic recently held a conference to discuss the serious problem of concussions and other related hockey injuries. The major finding of the clinic was that hockey is causing way too many brain injuries and that, as a result, the sport needs to change. Scientists are suggesting changes to the current body checking rules and to eliminate fighting among both professional and non-professional hockey leagues.
The National Hockey League is on board with the changes, citing that it wants children and all players to feel safe playing hockey and that it doesn’t want parents to be afraid to sign their children up for the sport. Taking the advice from the Mayo Clinic conference seriously, the NHL has barred all targeted head contact and has new safety and monitoring procedures in place for players who may have suffered concussions.
The NHL isn’t the only hockey organization willing to adapt either. Both USA Hockey and Hockey Canada have outlawed any body checking among players under the age of 13. While some feel that the organizations are overreacting and enforcing “ridiculous” rules, anyone who has truly examined the findings of the Mayo Clinic would understand why these new policies are being implemented.
The Clinic found that repeated hits to the head, even minor ones, among hockey players often lead to serious harm. Other findings included that left or right hook hits were the most common causes of concussions. The Clinic also feels strongly that brain damage is a possible outcome of repeated hits and plans to research this theory further.
Based on their research, the Clinic is asking junior hockey and NHL teams to punish fighters with immediate ejection from a game and long-term suspension in some situations. It is still unknown how the NHL and other hockey leagues will respond to these suggestions, but many are speculating that hockey would be a whole lot safer for everyone if they did.