NHL refutes hits and brain disorder
Letter to U.S. senator restates no definitive proof ‘yet’ linking concussions to degeneration
National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman continues to refute the link between concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CTE is a degenerative brain disorder that can lead to mental health issues and even suicide. Bettman made his latest statement on the matter in a 24-page letter addressed to U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who has been critical of the NHL’s position on concussions and CTE.
“[T]he science regarding CTE, including on the asserted ‘link’ to concussions ..., remains nascent, particularly with respect to what causes CTE and whether it can be diagnosed by specific clinical symptoms,” Bettman writes in the letter published by the New York Times on Tuesday.
Bettman blamed the media for creating a culture of “fear mongering” around the issue and ranted against “widely publicized misinformation relating to a supposed causal connection between concussions and CTE.”
“At bottom, the science just has not advanced to the point where causation determinations can responsibly be made,” he said, adding that the NHL’s stance on the matter reflects “medical consensus” that “a causal link between concussions and CTE has not been established.”
“If that consensus changes, so, too, will my answers,” he added.
Reaction to Bettman’s letter has been largely negative among hockey fans, some of whom believe Bettman has fallen behind the curve, especially in comparison to the National Football League, which only this year acknowledged the link between concussions and CTE.
When asked if he there was a link between football and CTE during a congressional roundtable in March, the NFL’s senior vice-president for health and safety, Jeff Miller, said, “The answer to that question is certainly yes.”
The NFL made the stunning admission after years of refuting a link while attempting to fight a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of former players who suffered concussions while in the league.
In April 2015, the court approved a settlement between the two sides.
One year an appeals court upheld the decision that made the league accountable for upwards of $1 billion in monetary rewards to the group of around 4,500 retired players.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman: Science says there is not a clear link between concussions and CTE. “If that consensus changes, so, too, will my answers.”