Hitting hard is now a crime

Sports like football, hockey, rugby and lacrosse are known as physically tough sports.

When people think of football, they think of the receiver cutting across the middle and getting blasted by the linebacker as he makes the catch.

In hockey, a player moves up the neutral zone only to be crushed on the blue line by a hulking defenseman. These are just examples, yet more and more these kinds of physical sports are being weakened. Every hit in football or every big check in hockey anymore seems to have a flag thrown or a penalty called. Everything turns into a debate for the announcers to dissect whether it was a dirty play or just a hard, clean play. What happened? Just 10 years ago, Paul Kariya, of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks at the time, was hit by New Jersey Devils’ defenseman Scott Stevens. Stevens hit Kariya straight on as he crossed the blue line, knocking him out. He had to be carried off the ice, only to return late in the game to score the goal that forced game seven in the playoffs.

That would never happen today because Kariya was diagnosed with a concussion, but 10 years ago concussions were not as understood as they are today.

Concussions are real; they do exist, yet it seems as if anymore weekly a player goes down with a concussion. NFL and NHL players are the best known athletes to suffer concussions and, as such, see the sports they play change. Nobody can deny the reality that a defensive back running full speed at somebody and putting his helmet into the other player’s helmet is probably a bad idea. But now, if anything looks remotely like that, a flag is thrown.

In hockey ever since Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins took out Marc Savard with an elbow to the head, the league has been out to penalize and be rid of dangerous head shots. This is the correct stance, but any big hit in which a player’s head is remotely touched now results in suspensions and fines. Sometimes the player being hit is at fault: He puts his head down and in a vulnerable situation. It sucks to say, but when you play a sport like football or hockey, you should have the understanding if you cut across the middle with your head down, someone will light you up.

Hits to the head should absolutely be eliminated, but the witch hunt currently going on to ban all big hits must go. Some hits will always be controversial, but sometimes referees must look at a big hit for what it is. Just because somebody gets lit up does not mean the play was entirely dirty.