Should the NHL Mandate Visors?

The ongoing debate regarding whether visors should be mandatory safety equipment in the National Hockey League (NHL) is likely to get some renewed attention after one of the league’s players, Rangers’ Marc Staal, suffered a serious eye injury in a recent game. Warning: don’t watch the video if you are squeamish.

http://slapshot.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/06/eye-injury-to-ranger-raises-issue-of-helmet-visors-again/?src=xps

Visors are currently optional in the NHL despite the league’s ongoing support of a rule that would mandate their use. What’s the holdup? It’s the players union. The union’s position is that players should have the choice.

This situation captures the tension that frequently exists between individual choice and population level benefit, a tension we frequently see in injury prevention interventions and public health more broadly (Check out the legal battle over New York City’s ban on large sugar sweetened beverage). Should the NHL implement a rule mandating visors when the players themselves are not in favor of such a rule?

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