It certainly is not the first opinion piece that has graced the papers in recent year, nor will it be the last, but James Carroll’s opinion piece does take a reflective look at the sport and issue we now face;
Even as a high school kid, I knew that more honor was to be had in playing through an injury than in the few passes I actually ever caught.
As I learned when my parents later took me to the doctor, I had suffered a concussion. That was nothing to the embarrassment I felt when they made me tell Coach I’d be sitting out practice for a week. His sneer flooded me with shame. That simply, I’d been plunged into the macho heart of football — a gladiator ethos which has lately drawn scrutiny because, indeed, of brain concussions.
This attitude must change when it comes to playing with concussions. The entire game or mindset does not need to be completely rewritten, rather the view-point of one specific injury needs to be changed up. Can you imagine what Bo Shemblecher or Woody Hays would have thought about spreading 5 wide receivers out and only have the QB in the backfield in shotgun? Certainly they would have thought the game was coming to an end.
Naturally since the sport of football is so popular any type of tinkering or changing the game many people, especially those established in the sport, feel they are personally taking something away.
Listen, concussions are not good, in the short-term or long-term, and its and injury that will be part of football and of other sports too. Some changes are necessary to protect the player – like the launching and making contact with the head – however there are two major areas where impact can be made.
1. change the outcome expectation; view the injury as a 10-14 day injury (which is an absolute minimum). Just like when someone breaks a bone the thought is 4-6 weeks, minimum.
2. correct management/recovery of injury; players, coaches and fans must understand that recovery from a brain injury requires rest of an undetermined length. Each person is so individualized and in almost all cases quick return to activity and stress will make recovery longer.
Changing our national game is difficult but it does not have to be “powder-puff”, football can still remain a gladiator sport, however the machismo that is oozing from every pore of the sport must be adjusted when it comes to brain injury and how to avoid them.