Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear to Tread

March 8, 2010

Both the NHL and NASCAR have come under fire in the past 24 hours for reasonably blatant – and pretty dangerous – rules violations. The NHL was thrust into the spotlight when Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke – a player with a history of making questionnable hits – knocked Boston’s Marc Savard into next Tuesday with an ill-advised shoulder to the head. NASCAR made the news when Carl Edwards intentionally wrecked Brad Keselowski as payback for an earlier wreck and sent Kesolowski flipping into the air. Both leagues/sanctioning bodies are going to be under a microscope for their responses to these two incidents.

In the case of the NHL, this is just the latest in a long list of questionnable hits to the head in the past couple of years. We don’t need to read the Reggie Fleming report to know that hits to the head and brain injuries can lead to pretty significant physical and mental issues. The league needs to step up and find its balls and figure out some way to eliminate these massive hits to the head. Why not utilize something similar to the international hockey rules and make a hit to the head and ejectionable offense? Sure, accidental hits will happen, but much like accidentally high sticking someone in the face, you do the crime, you pay the time. It will eliminate some of the more “devasting, crunchy” hits that the hockey purists love, but at the same time it should make players more aware about their surroundings on the ice and their body positions as they skate around. And who knows, it might even improve the game of hockey in the long run.

What sucks is that there is no one answer that will make all the major constituent groups – players, management, media and fans – happy. But I would rather watch a game with less hitting as opposed to a game where a crunching body check leaves someone severely injured, paralyzed, or god forbid, dead.

On the NASCAR side of things, racer Carl Edwards wrecked fellow driver Brad Keselowski as payback for an incident last October. The video of yesterday’s incident can be found HERE, starting at about the :40 mark.What’s so appalling with regards to this situation is that Edwards admitted that it was intentional, and that he didn’t mean for him to get airborne. You see in the video how close Keselowski came to hitting the catch fence. He hits that fence the wrong way and I’d be writing a different blog today.

In the past, NASCAR has almost turned a blind eye to this “rubbin is racin” attitude. However, when one driver blatantly admits that he did something, and the fans, media and drivers are in effect calling for the head of John the Baptist on a platter, they have to do something. On the other hand, if they do something, then they’re seen as “wussying” up the sport formerly occupied by hard drinking and hard living guys. But if a fan or driver gets seriously hurt as a result of a retaliatory effort down the line, NASCAR has a massive liability issue on their hands.

It’s kind of an uncomfortable position between a rock and a hard place, isn’t it?

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