Sports followers have notice that head injuries are creeping up the visibility ladder all over the place. Back a while, the term: “punch-drunk” used to accompany older boxers; the sport’s iconic Joe Lewis’ retirement years were as iconic as he. Today though, we’re reading of the injuries occurring to highly paid pro ballplayers and the risks to even, high school athletes. There is talk of rule changes and legislation though not much has happened so far. But the subject is heating up, with as you might expect, lawyers holding some of the lighted matches.
Skating is too small a target to attract much of that sort of attention but the ice rink industry seems more substantial and in places like Canadian cities, more visible. You can read about a current story in New Brunswick here.
The reporter notes that the city’s rinks are being required to mandate helmets for their skating patrons with a single exception: Figure skaters. Hockey players have worn helmets for quite a while, general public skaters however, haven’t. Now, they will. But not those fancy skaters.
This seems bemusing to the writer of that story: Isn’t figure skating on hard, slippery ice just as dangerous if not more so, than plain pleasure skating? How does the government justify such an exception? I suppose that the writer knows very well, and is just pointing to the illogic of political decisions.
Can anyone imagine say, Olympian Yuna Kim wearing a tastefully decorated helmet topping her brief and elegant skating dress? Right. Though it might fit in better for some of the human rubber balls that the male pair competitors use as partners… How this exception will stand up in a court proceeding by parents angry over their child’s injury will have to be seen. And if that occurs logically, how the sport will deal with mandatory helmets will have to be seen, too. For one thing, it should be interesting watching some 8 year old, female ectomorph attempting to learn a triple Salchow while wearing a helmet. Or a double Axel, for that matter. A helmet might even lend interesting qualities to spins. How will a camel spin appear with a couple of pounds wrapping a little kid’s head?
Of course, this whole thing may lose its steam and disappear from the public scene; it’s hardly started now. But with the lawyers interested and pro and high school sports already involved, who can say? At least, it ought to provide aficionados something to worry about besides the judging…