Judge Students featured on the New York Times Learning Network Web page

  • by Shannon Doyne
  • February 3, 2012
  • New York Times Learning Network article link

A number of Judge Memorial Catholic High School seniors have been featured on the New York Times Learning Network , commenting on the article “On Violence in Hockey: Students Have Their Say.”

This article was offered on the latest installment of the Learning Network Reading Club, on the topic of violence in ice hockey. Previous topics were schools’ approaches to teaching sex education and character education.

This particular article is titled, “Punched Out,” a three-part series by John Branch, on the life and death of Derek Boogaard, a National Hockey League player who had been one of league’s most feared fighters. He died of an overdose on May 13 at age 28. Afterward, researchers studied his brain and determined that he had a degenerative condition believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head.

Excerpts from the postings by Judge students include:

Nick Brown, who gave helpful explanations of “checking,” a skill he learned in fifth grade, and how youth leagues deal with fighting. He went on to say: “I agree that fighting should have severe consequences especially when you get to the N.H.L. level of play. If we are teaching young players not to fight then this should continue on through to the professional level. Ultimately fighting is something that harms the overall flow of a game. I have played many physical intense games where there have been hard hits and aggressive gestures but absolutely no fighting. This is simply because neither team could afford to lose a guy to a penalty or even lose the momentum they have going.”

Che Diaz, compares the hits players endure in hockey are similar to his sport, lacrosse. He believes it’s the players, not the game, that should change: “I can’t deny or ignore the fact that consistent brain trauma can lead to lifelong problems and this trauma does occur in hockey along with others sports as well. I propose that instead of ruining it for every player, the league should focus their energy to providing insight to players on how to better protect themselves, rather than changing the whole sport. By no means does this completely eliminate the problem, unexpected collisions are inevitable, but I do believe players would greatly benefit from the additional training.”

Grace Best-Devereux, also a lacrosse player who, like Che, has also experienced concussion while playing. She calls out the N.H.L. for allowing fighting to continue while promoting concussion prevention: “The N.H.L. may be one of the frontrunners in concussion prevention research, but allowing athletes to play the role of enforcer is hypocritical; letting athletes punch opponents out of consciousness while campaigning for safer games. If the N.H.L. and hockey as a whole wanted to prevent trauma to their athletes, the first step to take would be to promote skill over brute force. By promoting a game of skill, there would be no need for illegal checks and no need for enforcers to police the ice. If games were played with more respect for the well being of the opponents, bad checks wouldn’t happen.”

Hayden Richardson, calls for reform, pointing out a football player whose sad fate somewhat echoes Boogaard’s: “In the same way that the brawls on the ice eventually killed Mr. Boogaard, the constant head trauma that football players under go has led to death, as in the case of defensive lineman Shane Dronett who committed suicide in 2009 after three years of paranoia, constant bad dreams and periods of confusion caused by the brain damage sustained during his career. Without regulations more players who are willing to give their lives for their dreams would have to.”