Conceding, rather the inability to concede is one of the traits high level athletes have in common. The dive to succeed and be the best at all costs is what makes some better than others; it makes teams champions. This quality is also what has put the concussion issue at the forefront. Blinded by the ‘need’ to overcome and win/perform injuries are often an after thought; this cannot be the case with concussions.
As I was reading one of my favorite sites I came across an article put together by Sean Conboy. The article was rerun from The Classical and below are some excerpts as to why hearing your name cheered on keeps the mind clouded;
Despite a stunning last-minute loss to Baltimore, Harrison was elated after the game. Things were different. There was an unfamiliar silence in his head, and his cranium did not ache like a mother****er. He was so comfortable, in fact, that, according to the release, “Mr. Harrison called Rob Vito, UNEQUAL’s CEO, to thank him for putting UNEQUAL CRT™ in his helmet, proclaiming it was the first time he did not experience post-game head pain or ringing in his ears.” In seven years.
James Harrison admitted to having symptoms after almost every game, which is not surprising given his propensity to lower and use his head a weapon. Tell me again why he feels that he was “wronged” in getting suspended? I thought using your helmet/head as principal point of contact was illegal.
Only he did not. With Kevlar retrofitted into his helmet, Polamalu took the field against the Cincinnati Bengals just seven days after sustaining his not-quite-acknowledged concussion. His fear of not being a man, of looking like a wuss in front of his teammates, trumped his fear of looking at his son at age 50 and seeing a stranger; of uncontrollably sobbing and not knowing why, like the departed NFL great Dave Duerson, or, more recently, the late 28-year-old NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard; of not remembering what he ate for breakfast that morning, like the late NHL tough guy Bob Probert. Or maybe Polamalu didn’t think about all the depressing research he claims to read and be (very rightly) terrified about. Maybe he heard the echo of 65,000-strong at Heinz Field and wondered how many more times he’d hear it. Maybe he was like Scott Hall.
Yes, our boy Troy who seemed to tell us what we all wanted to hear. For the record I still believe him, but this goes to show that there needs to be someone or a group of someones that protect these high achieving athletes.
Hall saunters down the aisles of converted roller rinks in the Midwest through the quicksand of Xanax, Percocet, whatever, anything. He tries his best to mimic the trademark strut that once made Madison Square Garden explode. Now, people often laugh and throw garbage at him. When asked why he keeps walking through the progressively more threadbare curtains in these progressively more threadbare towns, Hall lingered on a haunting question. He asked, tears welling in his eyes, “What do you do when they stop chanting your name?”
A former WWE star that has been stricken with the same problem of not conceding to injury, chasing the almighty ‘roar of the crowd’, and for what to scramble what brain matter he has left? His comments are not far off from many boxers past his prime, and seem almost acceptable for a professional. What if I were to tell you that kids, 13-20 year old’s feel and say the same thing? It’s true, many feel that the crowd and being the center of attention is needed for their existence to continue. Not to mention the ‘scary’ part of being called a “whimp”, “sissy”, or worse for conceding to a headache.
Instead, he should think of Scott Hall rambling down the dark, desolate corridors of some backwater venue, grinning through a hail of beer cups, going through his motions in a living oblivion. We keep asking how these proud/crazy gladiators can keep inflicting this horrific pain on themselves, how even the smartest among them will willingly dive headlong into an early grave. And then we glorify a particular kind of masculinity—the kind of tangible, cathartic machismo on display when James Harrison marches out onto the field with a mushy eye socket, not the much-harder-to-define masculinity Sidney Crosby showed when he let the world rain shit on him for daring to rest his beleaguered brain for eight whole months. We do all that and then we look through poor ghostly Scott Hall, who listened to the wrong ringing in his ears, who couldn’t escape an athlete’s most powerful drug. Us.
Could not close it better than Sean did. The take home message is that not only professional athletes feel this way, but kids, your kids and the neighbor kids feel the same way. At what point do we take a look in the mirror and make the necessary changes to our expectations? We allow time off for ACL injuries, or exploded legs; why then can we not allow time off for a brain injury?