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(Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press)
(Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press)

Ralph Nader calls on NHL to ban fighting Add to ...

He did in the Chevrolet Corvair and forced the auto and chemical industries to blink, can he do the same to hockey?

Consumer rights and environmental crusader Ralph Nader has penned an open letter calling on the National Hockey League to immediately ban fighting and all blows to the head.

The former U.S. presidential candidate, who in 2000 was at least partly responsible for this, argues the science is compelling enough to suggest that it’s time for hockey teams to err on the side of caution.

“It’s time to act. The National Hockey League must take immediate steps to ban fighting and outlaw all blows to the head. And you, Mr. Bettman, as league commissioner, must lead the way,” reads the letter issued by the advocacy organization League Of Fans and co-signed by Nader.

The group, founded by Nader, describes itself as “a sports reform project working to improve sports by increasing awareness of the sports industry's relationship to society, exposing irresponsible business practices, ensuring accountability to fans, and encouraging the industry to contribute to societal well-being.”

The letter references the research that is probing links between concussions and degenerative disorders like chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), evidence of which has been found in four hockey players, including the late enforcer Derek Boogaard, who died last year after mixing painkillers and alcohol.

“Fighting in hockey can no longer be a long-debated issue pitting those who find it barbaric and unsportsmanlike and those who argue that it’s an integral part of the fabric of the game. The growing mound of research on sports concussions and brain injuries has taken the fighting issue to an entirely different level. We’re talking about short-and-long-term damage to the brain, the very foundation of who we are as people,” Nader and League of Fans sports policy director Ken Reed write..

“How can you continue to allow fighting, in which the primary target is the head of your opponent, and seriously make the argument that you’re doing all you can to make player safety a priority?”

The letter was made public on the organization’s website earlier this week, you can read it here, just below a correction pertaining to a claim in the original missive that the Ontario Hockey League had banned fighting.

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