Torres hit provides torrid backlash

By Matt Hopkinson

Whether you’re a lifer or just someone who jumped on the bandwagon a few years back, all Chicago Blackhawks viewers are aware of Raffi Torres’ hit on Marian Hossa.

I’m not going to rehash the situation or the time frame, as everyone should be familiar with it. What I’m going to offer is the degradation of not only the NHL, but of many major contact sports in general.

As our athletes have become bigger, stronger and faster over the years, our research has also shown that Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a major problem facing athletes in many contact sports, most notably football and boxing, but assuredly in hockey as more research is put into that sport.

CTE is a deterioration of the brain caused by repeated trauma to the head, usually associated with concussions, as more concussions give way to a higher likelihood of having CTE.

The final stage of the disease involves a full effect of dementia, as well as symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. Secondary symptoms of CTE include impeded speech, memory problems and vertigo.

A well documented case in the NHL is Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, who experienced several concussions in succession and suffered from vertigo in his lengthy time off the ice.

CTE can affect anyone at any age, but has become more prevalent at the college level, as athletes are under pressure to become as big, strong and fast as possible in order to reach the stage of sports they aspire to.

Due to this problem, many athletes can potentially reach the big stage while currently having CTE, such as former NFL wide receiver Chris Henry, who was diagnosed with CTE after his death following a car crash. He is believed to be the first active player to be diagnosed.

Next time you witness a big hit on any level of play, don’t think about the team not getting a penalty or the referees not making the call.

Think about the life of the athlete and how the money we’ve pumped into entertainment has made modern day gladiators suffer a long, agonizing death. At least death was instant in Roman times.