WHAT HOCKEY GETS RIGHT ABOUT DANGEROUS PLAYS. This article by Nicholas Cotsonika about the thought process underlying a penalty imposed on a player for an illegal check which caused an injury illustrates several things that the National Hockey League does that other sports should imitate.
First, there is an explanation of why the penalty is imposed. The league disciplinarian in this case gave an explanation on a “suspension video”.
Second, if an injury occurs as a result of an illegal action, then the severity of the injury is taken into account in imposing the penalty. Other sports do not take the seriousness of an injury into consideration, but in life outside of the arena, we take for granted that the extent of harm affects the extent of liability. (For example, a punch is thrown. If the victim strikes his head on pavement and dies, the liability is greater than if the victim lands on soft ground.) This gives a player an incentive to avoid dangerous plays that can injure another player.
Third, if there is an injury, an absence of intent to injure is not a complete defense. In this case, Cotsonika discusses how the player received a two game suspension even though his check was borderline illegal and another player who deliberately elbowed an opponent in the head received only a one game suspension. The injury here consisted of “a broken nose, facial fractures and a concussion”, warranting a two game suspension (hockey is a dangerous sport).