Has sport reverted back to days of gladiators?

In military conflicts throughout the world, leaders often are encouraged to cut off the head of the snake.
The action clearly calls for assassination. In Afghanistan and into Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, drone strikes have been used to eliminate many Al-Qaeda leaders.
Over the past few days, football fans have been surprised to see that a coach of the New Orleans Saints, and probably the Washington Redskins, paid bounties to players who made big hits on opposing players that effectively removed them from the game.
Other players in the NFL have indicated other teams may have offered bounties, as well.
This all took place while the NFL supposedly was paying more attention to player safety and, in particular, to head injuries. The league had toughened the rules and increased the severity of the fines.
Yet teams still were cutting off the head of the snake.
As more is being learned about sports brain injuries, it will be interesting to watch how the NFL disciplines those teams and coaches who participated in the bounty hunting.
In highlight reels, the hard, bone-crushing hits on quarterbacks and receivers fill the two-minute clips weekly. In the NHL, the bone-chilling hits are cheered in sports bars across Canada.
And now we know that some of those football hits were for blood money.
No such scandal has yet found its way to professional hockey teams, although top players seem to be hurt more this season than in any other previous one.
This is the lesson that’s being passed down to the young people who play the game: take a top player out of a game or series of games, and your opportunities to win greatly increase.
In Monday’s edition of the Globe and Mail, reporting on a study conducted by the University of Montreal, it found that teenagers suffering from concussions showed that many had learning issues for up to a year afterwards.
The study has found that many of the athletes had issues with working memory functions that allow one to read, watch television, and do math problems in the immediate time frame.
Without that working memory, students had problems with being successful in the classroom.
In the United States, it’s estimated more than 43,000 high school players endure a concussion during the school year. And annually, several die as a result of head trauma.
Is sport reverting back to the days of the gladiators or the days of the Christians and lions? Has the pressure of winning at all costs, including injuring other players, replaced the humanity of enjoying the beauty of the sport?
Governor General David Johnston, who played university hockey with Harvard, has called on the NHL and the lower leagues to put an end to all headshots in the game and an end to fighting.
In the newspaper article, he says, “It’s an appropriate thing for me to talk about. I’m concerned about our children.”
“I think that headshots have no place in the game of hockey,” he added, noting that when he was 16, he suffered from three concussions—two from football and one from hockey.
He started wearing a helmet when real players did not wear any headgear.
Now with mounting medical evidence, it is time for hockey, football, rugby, and soccer to pay more attention to head injuries of its players.

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