An article published in the New York Times titled “The NHL’s problem with science” (god love The Times but we’re not putting periods in between NHL as long as I’m in charge of this website) won’t impress anyone who likes the scientific method. The article specifically deals with the NHL’s request to do its own research on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in response to the class action lawsuit that claims the league hid the impact of head injuries.
Sound familiar? It should. As author Juliet Macur points out, it’s the tactic the tobacco industry pursued for years while trying to convince the public smoking was actually good for you. While the NFL acknowledges at least a tacit connection between the disease and its league, Bettman and company isn’t willing to do that until the league’s scientists do their own research. Right.
That should make you physically ill as a member of the human race. This isn’t about eliminating fighting or making hockey soft — this is about the league failing to admit the inherent dangers that come with its sport. The article, which I highly encourage you read in its entirety, goes on to drag the NHL in the following incredible ways.
The N.H.L. has asked Boston University for research materials, unpublished data and, among many other things, the C.T.E. research center’s information on the people who donated their brains for study — brains that were donated in many cases on the condition of anonymity and are protected by medical privacy laws. The league also wants medical records of the deceased and interview notes which would include discussions with their families, even though most of the athletes never even played hockey.
Hand it all over, the league said, so it can “probe the scientific basis for published conclusions” and “confirm the accuracy of published findings.”
This is like someone held back in eighth grade for six years telling an honors student they’re going to do their homework for them. The NHL has no business doing its own research here because the work has already been done. The league can best serve its players by using its resources to apply the research smarter people have already done.
Instead, Bettman and company will fight their responsibilities tooth and nail because that’s what they do. That brings us back to the lawsuit that prompted all this to begin with. From the Times:
More than 60 years later, the N.H.L. has responded to a class-action lawsuit regarding head injuries with a similar approach.
The suit, brought by former players and their families, claims that the league hid the dangers of head injuries. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages.
Yes, the NHL decided to go after the science in an effort to claim it didn’t hide the danger of its sport. The ole “we didn’t hide anything because there’s nothing to hide” trick. This logic isn’t much better than select portions of fans and the media defending one of the most dangerous portion of the game (yes, fighting) because of entertainment value. That’s just how these things go.
Anyway, I look forward to the league that can’t get its own stats page right cracking the case on CTE. This should be good.