Originally posted on Bleeding All Blue  |  Last updated 12/6/11

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.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Russell Westbrook posterizes DeMarcus Cousins to seal win

Tampa Bay Lightning trade star goaltender Ben Bishop to the LA Kings in surprise deal

Divac makes bold promise after trading DeMarcus Cousins

Popovich praises Magic, wishes him well with Lakers

Report: Andrew Bogut likely to join Cavs after buyout

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Broncos expected to 'at least discuss' Romo

Report: Raiders don't expect to keep Latavius Murray

Report: Josh Hamilton needs another knee operation

Ball's father says comment about Lakers was misquoted

Revis hints he is open to taking significant pay cut

Several NBA executives have concerns about Lonzo Ball’s father

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker