Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Five for fighting (the obvious)

No, denial is not just a river in Egypt. Turns out it's a frozen river in Egypt.

Or so we can assume now that the Ice King himself, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, has once again denied there exists any credible evidence that suggests sports-related concussions can lead to long-term brain damage. This time he did it in a letter to U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.

"[T]he science regarding CTE, including on the asserted 'link' to concussions ... remains nascent, particularly with respect to what causes CTE and whether it can be diagnosed by specific clinical symptoms," Bettman wrote, adding that current research establishes no "causal link between CTE and concussions in team sports generally, much less in NHL hockey."

Actually, there's plenty of research that suggests a causal link, and there has been for some time. Research into the exact link may be ongoing, but that there is one has been fairly well established for nearly a decade. Even the NFL has come to that conclusion, and the NFL spent the better part of 20 years with its eyes glued shut, discrediting any research (and trashing the reputation of any researcher) who suggested as much. The Shield even debunked its own research on the matter back in 2010 or so.

And yet here comes Gary Bettman, who must have fallen asleep back in 2010 or so and has yet to awaken. No credible evidence that repeated blows to the head and CTE are linked? What planet is the man living on?  

I'll tell you which one: The Planet of I'm Gettin' Sued.

See, the NHL is up against a class-action lawsuit filed by 105 former NHL players, who claim the league failed to properly warn players of the risks associated with repeated concussions. And so Bettman is pretty much compelled to stonewall the thing, no doubt on the advice of counsel.

Problem is, every time he does stonewall, he makes the players' case for them. They are, after all, claiming the league ignored the issue, or even refused to acknowledge one existed. Which is exactly what Bettman continues to do.

Nice strategy.

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