Every time a professional sports league goes through what the NHL is going through now, it makes the average fan wonder: "how are these well conditioned athletes, who are so much 'healthier' than the rest of us, all get so sick?"
There are a number of reasons that might explain the issue, but we're not doctors - what we do know is that the NHL, like other leagues before it, has quite the problem on their hands.
The first diagnosed cases of the mumps were passed off as coincidence, a "one-off" that was going to end up making Francois Beauchemin and several other Anaheim Ducks teammates the butt-end of jokes in their locker room and around the league.
Then it started spreading, and the potential for laughing about it evaporated as quickly as Sidney Crosby's cheeks were growing. As many as 13 players (now probably higher) and at least two referees have contracted the disease since it broke out - while everyday brings a report of a player who's overcome it, it is usually followed by news of a new case somewhere else around the league.
Many have mused over what might be causing the outbreak. Perhaps its the proximity on the ice, or even off the ice; if one thing is certain, though, it's that the NHL needs to get this problem under control as soon as possible, before they are forced to do something drastic about it.
And while the NHL deals with it's current medical dilemma, history shows that this is not the first time a professional sports league has been affected by a contagious outbreak or a troubling trend of disease.
Perhaps Gary Bettman and the league should look back in the vault (as we did) and see how other sports leagues dealt with their epidemic issues - and no, Gary, a lockout is not a potential solution to dealing with the NHL's mumps situation.
10 10. The Flu (All Sports)
9 ALS (Baseball, Football)
8 CTE (Football, Hockey)
7 SARS (2003 Arafura Games)
6 Norovirus (NBA)
5 Mumps (NHL)
4 Ebola (Africa Nations Cup)
3 Ebola (Soccer Bans)
2 MRSA (NFL)
1 Spanish Flu (NHL)
Remember earlier when we scoffed at the notion of the flu causing any sort of "real" issues in a professional sports setting? That wasn't the case nearly a century ago. Not only was the Stanley Cup Final cancelled because of the Spanish Flu, it also claimed a life. The disease had reached North America after festering in Europe. It made its mark on hockey in 1918-1919 during the finals between the Montreal Canadiens and the Seattle Metropolitans. The series began without issues, but once the influenza hit, it hit hard - four Canadiens players and manager George Kennedy caught the Spanish Flu, as did "Bad" Joe Hall, who got it worse than any of his teammates. Hall was hospitalized and eventually passed a week later.
Besides the cancelled 2004-2005 season, the 1918-1919 season was the only year where no champion was crowned.
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