Monday, May 16, 2011

Crossing A Line

As New York Ranger and Minnesota Wild fans try to deal with the passing of Derek Boogaard, there are times when some lines should be respected, times when until or unless it has been proven to be relevant to the event that a person has a right to some privacy.

Had Derek Boogaard not passed away on Friday then none of us would have known whether or not he was seeking counseling through the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. If Boogaard chose to seek counseling on his own should have been reason for any information regarding this subject not been disclosed.

Thanks to Larry Brooks and his bottom feeding version of journalism, information that just might have been none of our business has been disclosed. What happens if it turns out that Boogaard's death is ruled to be from "natural causes?"

Then this information that Brooks has released turns out to not be relevant as to Boogaard's death. Thanks to Brooks he is creating a "Rush To Judgement" as to why Boogaard died and few of them are nice.

See if Boogaard had chosen to release this information on his own then it make's this argument a moot point. But this is the off-season and Boogaard asked for some form of counseling so what business is it of ours now?

During the season yes one can find a reason since a player who is not physically injured but leaving the team is hard to hide. This is the off-season so why doesn't Boogaard have the right to privacy even after he has passed away?

I can think of several reasons why Boogaard sought out some counseling and none of them are because he was suffering from any kind of addiction. How about perhaps Boogaard was worried that the concussion he suffered during the season was going to end his career?

Boogaard has been an enforcer at the various levels of hockey for almost half his life. For all we know having his career taken away by the concussion is a heck of a good reason to seek counseling.

Maybe Boogaard was worried that if he had a poor training camp that the Rangers were going to exile him to the AHL to get his salary off their books as they have now shown a willingness to do. That is just 2 reasons neither of which are evil and in fact the kind of things that us average people would do if we were dealing with personal issues like the loss of a job.

Boogaard did not fail a drug test (which the NHL and Rangers would have disclosed) which makes entering the program mandatory. So far any information indicates that Boogaard asked for help and he entered the program on his own so the first question that needs to be asked was did Larry Brooks violate Boogaard's HIPPA rights by disclosing this information?

Did someone involved with the program whether they are in the NHL offices or NHLPA break US Federal Law by releasing this information without a signed consent form from either Boogaard or his authorized representatives?

You know what HIPPA is as it is the program that establishes guidelines as to what information can be given without a person's permission in regards to his or her health care. You know it every time you see a doctor for the first time as doctors make sure you are offered a copy of their privacy rules.

So why was Boogaard's privacy violated and if so who should be punished?

Brooks revised his original story regarding Boogaard's involvement in the program (stick tap to Ms Hurley of My Blueshirt Heaven) and his cutesy "it does not make him a bad guy" which makes it twice that Brooks may have violated Boogaard's right to privacy.

Forget asking me for a link as I know fully well that Brooks writes this stuff so we all talk about him and go see the article to generate "hits" or purchases of the New York Post. I refuse to provide any link to either Brooks article because of that.

But here is the bigger question: at what point does the media have to draw the line when it comes to a player's privacy? How much does Joe Fan have the right to know?

Here is why I am worried about what Brooks did: what if a player who is suffering from say depression does not seek out the help being offered out of the fear of the world being told?

If even one player does not seek help out of fear that the world will find out then the damage Brooks has done here will be even worse.

Not everybody has some kind of addiction or emotional problem, for all we know Boogaard could have been asking for counseling after the end of a relationship. Until the cause of death (and even then it is questionable) has been established then Larry Brooks crossed the line and violated Boogaard's right to privacy.

Why is it that most of the working public is offered a confidential way of seeking help without his/her employer or the world being told. Again the Ranger season is over so doesn't Boogaard have the right to seek out help without the world being told about it?

Anyone wonder why a gay hockey player has not come out now? Imagine the kind of nonsense that Larry Brooks can come up with.

This to me was one of those times when Derek Boogaard had a right to his privacy. No crime was committed by him and no drug test (that we know of) was failed. Sorry but when Derek Boogaard is not collecting a Ranger paycheck then he should have the same rights the rest of us get to enjoy.


Thank you to the fans of the hockey world for forgetting that they hate the Rangers for a minute by offering support and comfort to Ranger (and Wild) fans. Just as teams meet at center ice at the end of a playoff series, this is the hockey fans version of the handshake.

(Boogaard image courtesy of WPIX)


william Peace said...

The dead have no human rights. Even having written this I do not disagree with your comments r.e. Brooks. It was not necessary and tasteless to release the information. But what do you expect from a tabloid like the NY Post.

Tony V said...

Thanks for your thoughts. Well-written and heartfelt.

Jess Rubenstein said...

Interesting point William since it adds another question as to what rights do the dead have when it comes to privacy?


Thank you for the kind words

william Peace said...

To answer your question, the dead have no rights to privacy. Likely how Brooks found out the treatment program.

Craig said...

Decedents. Covered entities may disclose protected health information to
funeral directors as needed, and to coroners or medical examiners to identify
a deceased person, determine the cause of death, and perform other functions
authorized by law.
From the HHS.GOV Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

If Mr. Boogard's participation in the program is covered by HIPAA, then the release of the information to the 'reporter' is a violation per the above.

Like you, Jess, I have refused for years to provide web traffic to that individual's site/blog, etc. No ad revenue from me....

Jess Rubenstein said...

Thank you Craig for taking the time to look that up. Not only is Brooks then in violation but so should the person who provided said information.

william Peace said...

Thanks for correcting my error.

Jess Rubenstein said...

Note to William

There are so many grey areas regarding privacy that there is no right or wrong response.

There is however a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do. To me what Brooks did was the wrong thing to do for no other reason than all he did was smear Boogaard and then to make things worse tried to hide his behavior by showing us a side of Boogaard that others had already shown us

william Peace said...

Jess, What Brooks did may or may not have been legal but it was certainly questionable from an ethical viewpoint. Sadly, this is what tabloids do. Professional athletes are well paid but lose privacy we ordinary people enjoy. I for one am glad I live an anonymous life outside the spot light.