How much is too much?

Brutal head shots in hockey. Helmets used as weapons in football. The unbridled popularity of mixed martial arts. SPORTSCENTRE examines the growing culture of violence in professional sports in Drawing the Line, a special five-part series.

TSN's veteran journalist Dave Naylor helms the series, which questions why professional sports with violent contact are more popular today than ever. But increasing alarm is being expressed over the consequences of the violence – short term and long term.

Complementing the series, features columns from Naylor, bonus video features, as well as panel discussions on each of the five topics explored in Drawing the Line.

What Do You Think?

Given the intensive debates that have resonated with sports across Canada in 2011, specifically the perceived increase in violence in sports, TSN and IMI International (a Market Research consulting company) partnered on a study in May 2011 to quantify Canadians:

– Thoughts and perceptions of sport in Canada
– View toward professional sports leagues (20+), determining the momentum of each sport
– Attitude toward children participating in, and watching sports
– Perception and acceptance of contact sports and violence in sports
– Propensity to purchase brands and feel better toward brands that sponsor contact/violent sports

Click here for the full report.

Part One: The Perfect Storm

Monday, July 4

The headlines were recently filled with shocking new medical information on the long term effects of head shots. These revelations, combined with NHL and Olympic superstar Sidney Crosby's concussion-shortened season, a weekend of mayhem in the National Football League and the meteoric rise of mixed martial arts, brought the issue of violence in sports to a boil.

Part Two: The Cost

Tuesday, July 5

Violence in the sports fans love can take its toll on those who play them. For the athletes that take the field, the ring, the octogon or the ice, the damage can happen in a split second or over the course of several years. And despite some horrific hits and injuries, fans continue to watch and athletes seem willing to pay the price if it means fame and fortune.

Part Three: Violence Sells

Wednesday, July 6

With so many different sports to watch, mixed martial arts is definitely rocketing up the list of the most popular. Why does the spectacle of two people fighting in a caged octogon bring fans out in the thousands? Is the attraction to violence part of humanity's DNA? What role does the media play in the debate?

Part Four: Drawing the Line

Thursday, July 7

If sports violence has reached a crisis stage, who will reign it in - and how? From the National Football League to the National Hockey League, professional leagues are cracking down by toughening their rules, but the brutal hits and injuries keep happening. Some players will say it's all part of the game, while others are demanding action.

Part Five: Where Do We Go From Here?

Friday, July 8

Alarm is being expressed at the grassroots level about violence in pro sports. Recent medical evidence on the frequency and long term effects of concussions have parents and minor sports bodies worried about their children's' safety. So what impact might these concerns have on the way pro sports deal with violent incidents?

Interview Transcripts

Keith Primeau - former NHLer: "Whether it's hockey or football or whatever profession it may be, or sport that it might be, there's real danger in damaging your brain. I don't know if people truly understand that severity. The Bob Probert findings, I can't say that it really surprises me." More...

Jason Tucker - former CFLer: "Most people who know me, know that if I get hit or something I'm going to get right back up and you know walk off to the sideline. But this time I couldn't get up. I was laying on my face and I couldn't even roll over, I couldn't even move, so I knew something was really wrong." More...

Dr. David Levy - CFL team physician: "When you talk about contact, collision sport, violence is part of the nature of that sport. As long as you have fans that want to see that, you have players that are willing to subject their bodies to it, and you have governing bodies that aren't willing to change the nature of the sport." More...

Ray Anderson - VP of Football Operations, NFL: "We're much more educated about the negative ramifications of some of the hits that our players are sustaining. And as we get more educated and we realize not just the short term but the long term damage that can be done, then we have to be proactive." More...

Sean Pierson - current MMA fighter: "The sport hasn't changed, but the athletes have. We have athletes that have gotten bigger, stronger, faster, and with better equipment. Those hits were happening 20 years ago, I don't care what anyone says, and unfortunately now we're getting more injuries from it." More...

Lional Dalton - former NFLer: "I was told by an MRI tech I had the spine of an 80-year-old man. Said to me my spine was as bad as some 80-year-old people she'd seen coming there. It's an aggressive sport. But I wouldn't change it. You know I enjoyed the ride but it's the nature of the sport." More...

Paul Melia - President and CEO of the CCES: "Once you start to accumulate that kind of empirical evidence that's been collected through research, that's been peer reviewed and has that credibility, it's much more difficult first of all to ignore it but it also has a great impact on parents." More...

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