In the Chicago Sun Times, Rick Telander relays a story that is sometimes all to familiar to those that choose to pay attention. The end result is still the same, gutless and reprehensible behavior by all involved (VIDEO BELOW);
It was the moment wrestler Cody Minnick had trained years for, had sacrificed so much for.
He was in the 2013 Illinois high school state finals in the 106-pound weight class in February, going up against Anthony Luis, a tough nut from Harvard. They had wrestled twice the year before, splitting their matches, but they had not met this season. The shorter, stouter Luis carried a record of 39-6, but Minnick, taller and as lean as a lightweight can be, had progressed and nearly reached the pinnacle. He was 47-0, and he felt this was his big chance, his day for reward.
Then, just 19 seconds into the match, Luis grabbed Minnick and slammed him to the mat. The front of Minnick’s head hit first, then Luis’ chin hit him from behind.
Minnick signaled to the ref that he was hurt, and he lay motionless for a long time on the mat as trainers and referees circled about him, giving him assistance. He had a cut on the back of his head, but to any close observer, that wasn’t the issue. He clearly had been knocked out, however briefly.
This is not a new happening at the Illinois State wrestling meet in Champaign, we have cataloged two previous events prior to the 2013 State Finals;
Here is the video of the most recent case, the one Telander wrote about, courtesy of Sports Legacy Institute:
Which way do you think (post title not giving it away) do you think the Cody Minnick case plays out? Before we go further, it should be explained that wrestling in Illinois, while being very good, has poor medical coverage. It has been my experience that the problems faced in football with head coaches wielding too much power is the same or greater in high school wrestling. This is especially the case when teams travel and being at the state championships is that type of situation.
First of all, if the high school has an athletic trainer that is covering wrestling, that individual is NOT ALLOWED to be mat-side during any matches at the state finals. The athletic trainers there are contracted in by the IHSA, and hold the “medical coverage” for the tournament. For most teams and wrestlers these individuals are new to them, and have no history with the team or specific wrestler. This, IMO, puts the coach in a protective posture when dealing with injuries – its tough to trust those that you don’t know. However, it should not matter when it comes to athlete safety.
Back to Minnick, he not only tweets that he was basically knocked out, the TV coverage notes that he was knocked out and was not right, to add-on to that, the testing of balance is caught on film and the kid cannot even stand up;
Minnick is given a balance test, and when the trainer releases his shoulders, the boy stumbles backward. The announcer sounds shocked. Then he states what he sees before him: ‘‘He’s going to give it a go, though.’’
And, yes, the match is resumed. A clearly concussed elite high school athlete is sent back into fierce competition. Even laypeople know now that a second concussion on top of a first can be devastating, even crippling. The news has been out for months, years.
You can understand but not condone why a wrestler would want to continue. You can see the angle of why a coach would want his wrestler to continue, but at the same time that coach is ultimately responsible for the SAFETY of his wrestler. What I cannot understand is how an athletic trainer or doctor, who should have been near there, would allow this person to continue. In the video it is OBVIOUS, Minnick is not right.
During this same postseason in question, I was ripped on and hounded by parents and coaches of a team in Central Illinois after I made the correct assessment of a concussion. That wrestler was disqualified from that day’s action and from the next days action as well, effectively ending that seniors post season and high school career. I didn’t want that to be the outcome but the decision was EASY as an athletic trainer.
Minnick’s case is also an EASY case, and the very reason we continue to hammer home the need to be better educated and have proper medical care near by for such instances. IT DOES NOT MATTER IF ITS THE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP, if you have a concussion you must sit, and when in doubt sit them out. It’s part of sports and always will be. Coaches, parents and especially athletic trainers, please, I implore you to do the right thing!