Mill on NHL Hits & Concussions
It is without a doubt that the NHL is one of the most brutal sports played today. From fights to concussions to hits the game can subject players to life-threatening injuries. The game is even centered around the idea that hitting another player is completely acceptable, and in many instances advantageous to win the game. In our recent reading ‘On Liberty’ by John Mill, he mentioned an important concept called the “harm principle”. In Mill’s eyes the harm principle holds that “each individual has the right to act as he wants, so long as these actions don’t harm others.” Furthermore the principle adds that so long as the action is only against the individual society has no reason to intervene.
Clearly the style of play in the NHL does not uphold any of Mill’s provisions outlined in the principle. But it should be argued that the players themselves are the ones who put themselves into the situation. No one forces them to sign a contract, and the players participate on their own will. So then if the players understand the danger they are putting themselves in shouldn’t society be forbidden from enforcing any rules against them. The answer in my opinion is yes. The reason being is that Mill’s principle applies to general society whereas the NHL falls into a category of a community or organization. The players knowingly join the group and understand the circumstances they put themselves in. Oliver Holmes noted the harm principle as “the right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins” and in this instance this can not be true!