The gamers will adapt. They do it 100 instances a sport, they’ve accomplished it their complete lives. Coaches, too. For Bettman and his advisers: See the sport that’s performed on the ice there in entrance of you and on each group rink in all places on the planet. Don’t see the sport nonetheless performed in your personal minds. It doesn’t exist.
The gamers have moved well beyond it. Don’t get of their method. Don’t enable headhunting or head-reckless gamers who’re the exceptions to find out the sport. Just watch one of the best gamers within the sport, like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, and the brand new nice stars, like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, and the subsequent 50 finest, and the subsequent 100, and 200, and 400 — they play powerful, they play bruising, they play head-smart. To play this sport of at this time and of tomorrow, gamers want their full bodily capacities, and so they want the total capacities of their brains.
Now comes the subsequent attention-grabbing stage. The head hits proceed. The concussions and mind accidents proceed. Their life-affecting, life-diminishing signs proceed. It’s not that as science is aware of extra, it’ll reveal that these hits are much less of an issue, or that new diagnoses, therapies and protocols will lead to injured gamers being doctored again to full, or near-full well being. There’s not one physician or researcher who believes that. What we are going to come to know concerning the influence of those accidents sooner or later will make what we now know appear benign.
So if the media and the courts aren’t the reply, that leaves governments, and extra intense, and less-forgiving, public scrutiny. The drawback is not one in every of consciousness. There is loads of consciousness. The drawback is a commissioner who doesn’t take the notice and act.
The 12th of November appeared like an excellent day for Bettman. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on the identical day that the court docket settlement was introduced. He was very beneficiant in his induction speech, as you’d count on he could be. He has been the N.H.L.’s commissioner for greater than 25 years. It was a career-affirming second.
At such instances, many who’re being honored will say one thing like, “Thank you. I will work to earn this great honor for the rest of my life.” They will say that as a result of it’s a pleasant factor to say, as a result of they know of a number of others who’ve accomplished comparable issues however have gone unnoticed, and since deep down inside them, the place the beneficiant phrases of others can’t attain, they know what they’ve accomplished, and so they know what they haven’t accomplished. During Bettman’s years as commissioner, the N.H.L. has expanded from 24 to 31 groups, its footprint within the United States has broadened, franchise values have elevated, the league has created a wage cap. But legacies are tough issues. Bettman’s full legacy continues to be to be written.
The mind doesn’t take note of lawsuits and settlements, to who received and who misplaced, to celebrations and honors. The mind doesn’t care. And video games are performed tomorrow.
This is about energy. For Gary Bettman and the N.H.L., that they had the facility to win. Now it’s concerning the energy to do what’s proper. It’s concerning the energy to do what must be accomplished.
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