No Pain=Gain? (How Pain Killers are the Heart of Hockey and Steroids are the Fall of Baseball)

An NHL hit is 17% harder than an NFL one and the players are 20% smaller. Pain killers make sense. Hockey is about the fast pace of the game not the injuries. 
If you’re an avid hockey fan or even just read the newspaper, you know about Derek Boogaard. The former New York Rangers enforcer died on May 13 2011. The cause of death was a bad mix of pain killers and alcohol. He was not the first and will not be the last NHL hockey player addicted to pain killers. Pain killers are readily available for any player who needs or wants them. The doctors are not in constant communication with their players to monitor the amount consumed.
Two examples of how hockey players deal with pain happened very recently in last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs. The first was with Boston Bruins centerman Gregory Campbell. Campbell blocked a shot during the Bruins/Penguins series, which resulted in a broken ankle. He finished his shift.
Patrick Bergeron (also a Bruins centerman) played all of the playoffs at an exceptional pace regardless of the fact that he suffered from a rib injury, punctured lung and a separated shoulder. Patrice Bergeron is a good player but even Wayne Gretsky wouldn’t have been able to play in that much pain without taking anything.
The questions is, do pain killers prove the saying “No pain no gain” wrong? Derek Boogaard’s story seems to prove the fact that pain can be fatal but so can the things that stop it.
Hockey fans make fun of soccer players for their injuries. It’s easy to laugh at someone who leaves the field because they fell down. However, maybe soccer players have the answer. No pain killers means injuries hurt. It might mean you can’t play for a few days, weeks or even months. But maybe if hockey players let go of a bit of their pride, face up to their fears of being placed on the IR and stopped taking a regular dose of pain killers, then they might be in a better position. Being out for a few games or having the chance of losing your life should be an easy choice.

Yesterday, Alex Rodriguez, a baseball player for the New York Yankees, was suspended for 211 games after he was caught taking performance enhancing drugs. 3 MLB all stars were suspended 50 games for the same reason. They are not the first MLB players to be caught, however they got off lucky. Rodriguez has been accused of taking Biogenesis before. He and his fellow suspended all stars are very lucky that their ban was only temporary. If the MLB had kicked them out for their drug consumption it wouldn’t have been the first time.

The professional sports leagues don’t include pain killers in their list of performance enhancing drugs. This right here could be a sign that they believe pain killers hurt more than they help. In the NHL anyone can have pain killers. This could be dangerous. However, does that mean that the players who do take them have an advantage? My answer would be no. Everyone has the same opportunity to take pain killers so no one is cheating by having them. If everyone had the chance to take steroids then it wouldn’t be a suspendable offence. For the players that do choose to consume pain killers or have become addicted to them, there doesn’t seem to be very good evidence that they are helping themselves.
Derek Boogaard’s family sued the NHL for his sons death and have raised awareness to the fact that pain killers are bad things. Hopefully it won’t take more deaths before the league realizes what they’ve been doing wrong.

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