Originally written on Bleeding All Blue  |  Last updated 11/19/14
Chicago_blackhawks_v_9de5

There is a constant debate amongst some surrounding the game of hockey about the need for and viability of fighting within the sport.  The detractors argue that most who predominantly fight would not otherwise be in the league, while the supporters talk about how it has always been a part of the sport and that fighting can have a purpose within a game.  That debate might be changing more and more with the results of testing on Derek Boogaard’s brain.  Boogaard, who died this past May, was a player who made his living in hockey as a fighter, enforcer and tough player.
Today in Part III of “Punched Out” John Branch at the New York Times reports that the way Boogaard made his living in hockey could have significantly contributed to the condition his brain was in when he died.
Boogaard had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, commonly known as C.T.E., a close relative of Alzheimer’s disease. It is believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head. It can be diagnosed only posthumously, but scientists say it shows itself in symptoms like memory loss, impulsiveness, mood swings, even addiction.  
There is no way to know if Boogaard's addiction issues and change in mood that ultimately played a factor in his untimely passing were a result of this disease directly, but it does add more dimensions to the discussion.  Obviously Boogaard is not the first brain of a professional athlete to show this disorder manifesting itself, but he was by far the youngest and that is the most startling development of the study on his brain.
The scientists on the far end of the conference call told the Boogaard family that they were shocked to see so much damage in someone so young. It appeared to be spreading through his brain.  Had Derek Boogaard lived, they said, his condition likely would have worsened into middle-age dementia.
Does that change the equilibrium on the role of fighting in the NHL?  While one result should not be the defining opinion it is tough to argue with the comments from Dr. Robert Cantu of Boston University.
"However, based on the small sample of enforcers we have studied, it is possible that frequently engaging in fist fights as a hockey player may put one at increased risk for this degenerative brain disease," said Dr. Robert Cantu, co-director of the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE).
Regardless of these results fighting still has a place in the sport of hockey, but maybe the role of fighter/enforcer needs to be done away with for the well-being of people who are willing to do whatever it takes to help their team, even if their brains suffer for it.  The Boogaard family donated Derek's brain to science for the rest of us to better learn how what he did impacts the chemistry of the human brain, so let us take the information and learn from it.


MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Richard Sherman: Marshawn Lynch having MVP season

Curt Schilling tweeted advice to Johnny Manziel

Aaron Rodgers buys TVs for Packers teammates

Harbaugh smiled when asked about Michigan's bday tweet

Jackie Robinson West Little League accused of cheating

Police: Fire that burned down McClain's home 'suspicious'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Furniture store will refund purchases if OSU wins title

What each NFC team in the hunt should ask for from Santa

Is SI ashamed to mention Jameis Winston on its cover?

Kobe Bryant disappointed Lakers didn't get Rajon Rondo

Niners OT Anthony Davis takes shot at offensive coordinator

Report: Josh Smith expected to sign with Rockets

Billy Beane did not want to trade Josh Donaldson

Peyton Manning plans to be back with Broncos next year

WATCH: Blazers announcer botches Damian Lillard call

WATCH: P.K. Subban disguises himself, surprises kids for Xmas

Baseball cards: a fan's love for the ultimate stocking stuffer

Packers game is a career defining moment for Stafford

A look inside Jason Grilli's contract with the Braves

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

WATCH: Bahamas Bowl ends on insane Hail Mary play

Mike Yeo slams Wild for not having 'winner's attitude'

Michigan St. QB, Ohio State TE have awkward Twitter exchange

Will FIFA ever care to change?

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

WATCH: Announcer botches call

Police: McClain fire 'suspicious'

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

Bahamas Bowl ends on crazy Hail Mary

49ers OT Davis takes shot at coordinator

Will FIFA ever care to change?

Top storyline for each Week 17 game

40 great Christmas-related sports names

Nick Mangold and dealing with feelings as a sports fan

Ibaka, Aldridge ejected for scuffle

Baseball cards: a fan's love for the ultimate stocking stuffer

Nick Young on Kobe-less win: He needs to pass

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.