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Monday, December 5, 2011

"Derek Boogard: Blood on the Ice" by John Branch -NYTimes.com

This is a pretty cool article on the former hockey enforcer Derek Boogard, who recently OD'd on an alcohol and painkiller cocktail. It was on the main page of the Times today and is mostly cool because it is interactive--as the writer describes fights and locations you can click on videos of them. Otherwise I'm not sure why it garnered so much attention. It's pretty well written, and it's an interesting subject, but I feel like I've read this before. Hell I think I might have posted this before from Grantland or something. All these articles about the hockey enforcer deaths as of late (Rick Rypien and Wade Belak were the others) kind of half postulate that they're the result of traumatic head injuries, but serve up little evidence that that's actually the case.

Listen, not to be callous, because nobody, especially stand-up guys (by all accounts) like these guys should lead lives this short, but you can't go around pointing fingers at sports like hockey and football and say that's why people do horrific things to themselves. Yes, there is evidence that some of the hits these guys take fuck them up later in life. But also, violent sports, by and large, attract people that are a little bit crazy, guys that "do" first and "think" second. Personalities that live life hard and take things to extremes. It's the same profile of someone who abuses their body until they die.

In short, we love to watch these guys on the ice and the field because they are crazy, and sometimes crazy people do crazy things. So while it's very easy and apparently in vogue to blame the sports for its participants' actions, I think you really need to look at the people who choose to participate in those sports, and see the larger pattern for what happens to them as their lives proceed. Just my two cents. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

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