the truth of the matter sits somewhere betwixt and between the poles of "the league a la big tobacco has knowingly concealed and repressed information about known risks that the players face from head injuries and has recklessly impeded rule changes designed to reduce those risks" and that of "hey, that is the life that boogard chose and he went into his role in the league with his eyes wide open (and sometimes swollen shut)."
i think that these concussion lawsuits will play a role in forcing reform in the nhl and the nfl (and mlb?); i'm just not sure whether there will be enough of it (reform).
I'm still amazed how anyone thought that inhaling smoke into your lungs was a good thing regardless of what tobacco companies knew. As far the chemicals in cigarettes I treat that a lot like the foods today that have all kinds of things in them that people don't want to know about.
Concussions are a game changer injury-wise. The more we know, the more we see that returning from a concussion has inherent risks. It doesn't heal like a knee injury. I'm not sure how we divide up responsibility. Surely it is on the league to do its best to evaluate those injuries and enact reasonable workplace safety rules.
What is reasonable in a physical competition though.....
I think at this point we know enough for people to make an educated decision. We know that concussions have a long-term damaging impact to the brain and that the effects of multiple concussions are more than just cumulative and lead to potential brain damage and other health concerns.
Knowing this... each player involved in the sport needs to ask themselves whether or not it's worth it. I'm pretty much convinced that you can't change the rules of the game any more without destroying it. You can work towards better equipment and changes there that might reduce the chances but there is an inherent amount of risk that comes along with the job.
We are having this conversation while at the same time people compete in MMA competitions and beat the living crap out of each other. What a grand society we live in. The rules are there, don't hit people in the head. But the game moves fast and it's going to happen and there's nothing you can do about it.
I think it's important to understand as much as possible. Elimination of fighting is fine, but the concussions from hitting are worse and that can't be removed. Every step gets you closer to the All-Star game... which no one likes.