Tag Archives: rule

Paul Anderson: MLS Must Act with Urgency

By Paul D. Anderson Consulting, LLC

Major League Soccer and the Players Union barely missed a work stoppage—agreeing to a five-year CBA that will continue to restrict players’ rights.

The season is now in full swing. But certain issues remain unresolved.

As MLS and the Players Union hammer out the specifics of the new CBA, health and safety should be deemed an urgent priority. MLS has an obligation to maintain a safe work environment. This means that MLS must promulgate rules that are in the best interest of the players.

The Substitution Rule is the antithesis of this obligation. Under this Rule, a team is only allowed three substitutions per game. There is no exception for injured or concussed players. This has the obvious effect of putting “strategy” above the health and safety of the players. Moreover, it creates external pressure on the players, coaches and medical staff to ignore suspected concussions due to the threat of forcing a team to play shorthanded shortfooted.

Concussions are already difficult to diagnosis. It’s unrealistic to rely upon a concussed player to remove himself from play. Compounding the problem is the threat that if a player is forthright with the medical staff, he could be viewed as letting his team down, especially if it forces the team to play with only 10 players. Quite opposite to creating an environment that incentivizes players to report their injuries, the Substitution Rule impedes this, thus creating a dangerous work environment. This also impacts the medical team’s evaluation of the player.

In 2012, an MLS-affiliated doctor admitted the Rule hindered a practitioner’s ability to exercise his or her clinical judgment: “What’s different are the rules as in soccer, we have rules about substitution that make it difficult to do the kinds of evaluations that we would do in the NFL or even in the NFL,” Dr. Ruben Echemendia said.

While the dissenters have argued that allowing a concussion-substitution exception would create an incentive for cheaters, this position consistently rings hollow. Setting aside the fact that soccer (and basketball) players are notorious for their acting skills in order to draw penalties, the reality remains that new rules often create incentives to find grey areas. When balanced against the threat of a fatal brain injury, it is obvious which is more important.

It’s time for MLS and the Players to modify the Substitution Rule. The Rule’s failures have already been noted this season. Major League Baseball chose to buck the status quo when it outlawed collisions at home plate. While seen initially as a drastic change by the dissenters, MLB and the Players realized that safety trumps convenience.

MLS must provide more than mere lip service or face the threat of liability. If it wants to continue to flourish as a league, it must act with urgency to protect its most valuable assets.

This column was printed with permission of www.NFLConcussionLitigation.com

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A Pathway to Reducing Concussions in Youth Hockey

(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt of a article written by L. Syd M Johnson, PhD. Professor of Philosophy & Bioethics of Michigan Technological University, which appeared in Concussion Litigation Reporter. To subscribe, visit https://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/concussion-litigation-reporter/)

There are an estimated 173,000 annual emergency room visits for sport-related traumatic brain injuries in children and adolescents in the US, but many more — an estimated 50-75 percent of concussions — are believed to go unreported. Because of its popularity, football accounts for the vast majority of these brain injuries, but nearly half a million youths play ice hockey in the US and thousands sustain concussions each year.

Concussions occur when the brain moves inside the skull as a result of the application of kinetic force. Concussions can result from a direct blow to the head, whether or not a helmet is worn, but body contact of the kind experienced in contact or collision sports like hockey and football also causes concussions. It is suspected that the sub-clinical blows routine in these sports also cause unseen and undiagnosed neurological damage, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which may not result in detectable symptoms for many years. CTE has been found on autopsy in several former NHL and NFL players, but it has also been seen in athletes as young as 18 with only a history of youth sports participation, as well as in athletes in their twenties who had no history of concussion. The threshold of injury severity and frequency that might lead to CTE is still unknown, but the age of some victims indicates that participation in youth sports is a likely risk factor. Youth athletes are known to be at heightened risk of concussion, and may be more susceptible to all minor traumatic brain injuries resulting from sports participation.

Traumatic injuries spike significantly when young hockey players are introduced to body checking. The leading cause of hockey-related concussions is body checking, and the most effective way to limit concussions is to avoid body checking.

To read more, visit https://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/concussion-litigation-reporter/

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NHL Players Find Loophole in Helmet Rule Designed to Prevent Concussions

An interesting story emerged earlier this week about the National Hockey League’s well-intentioned helmet rule, which is designed to prevent its players from suffering concussions, while fighting.hockey

Specifically, NHL Rule 46.6 provides as follows:

Helmets — No player may remove his helmet prior to engaging in a fight. If he should do so, he shall be assessed a two minute minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Helmets that come off in the course of and resulting from the altercation will not result in a penalty to either player.

The flaws in the rule were revealed recently when Brett Gallant of the New York Islanders and Krys Barch of the New Jersey Devils removed each other’s helmets before a fight.

Here’s the surreal video:


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