Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Stick to Politics

In the latest fallout from that Patrice Cormier cheap shot that sent a fellow QMJHLer to hospital, some members of the federal NDP are calling for a royal commission (major government public inquiry) into "violence in sports."

The call comes two days after the first meeting between Cormier's Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and Mikael Tam's Quebec Remparts since the vicious elbow, which landed the Team Canada captain a season-long suspension, including the playoffs (a decision his team is appealing ), and left the 18-year-old Tam convulsing on the ice.

According to a Canadian Press report, NDP sports critic Glenn Thibeault and deputy leader Thomas Mulcair say violence in hockey has "reached such a peak" that only a royal commission can deal with it. In a 20-minute news conference, the two politicians singled out the Cormier hit as a "case of things going very wrong in the sport," and they vowed to bring coaches, leagues, referees, players and doctors together to look at all aspects of violence.

Overreaction on their part? I think so.

"League authorities need to explain why a savage attack, which would result in charges of aggravated assault anywhere else, warrants nothing but a few game suspensions," Thibeault said.

First of all, lets get something straight - we're not talking about "a few game suspensions" here. So far this season there have been some severe penalties doled out within the Canadian Hockey League for violent hits: season-long suspensions for both Cormier and Mike Liambas of the Erie Otters and a 20-game suspension for Windsor Spitfires forward Zach Kassian.

I'm not even going to touch the "charges of aggravated assault anywhere else" comment; hockey is a contact sport that allows fighting - if you start laying criminal charges when guys get hurt during a game, you enter dangerous territory.

Also, it's not like we're seeing players going out and doing what Patrice Cormier did every night. In fact, it's something you rarely see in the junior or even the professional ranks of hockey. To waste taxpayer money by studying "violence in sports" is just that - a waste.

If the NDP wants to study something, the real issue in sports right now is concussions, and they should be calling for studies similar to those underway in the US. This week, a House Judiciary Committee went after the biggest conferences in college athletics for their policies on handling concussions, blasting them for failing to adopt policies that go beyond what's required by the NCAA.

One interesting thing that has come out of the US hearings is a claim from the co-founder of the Brain Injury Research Institute at West Virginia University - Dr. Bennet Omalu testified that children under 18 should sit out for three months following a concussion, adding "there is no such thing as a mild concussion."

Do you think the NDP is onto something, or are Thibeault and Mulcair just trying to get their names in the news? Are concussions and brain trauma the issues that should be getting the focus here?

Let me know what you think!

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