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 – Continue reading
First off, Movember 2012 is over and the moustache is gone. Thank you to everyone who donated, whether it was to me or not, the money goes to the same very worthwhile cause.
Now, onto the post…
Yesterday, I tweeted a story from the New York Times, “Report Urges ‘Cultural Shift’ as Hockey Coaches Defy Concussion Specialists”. In the study, in the Journal of Neurosurgery, Dr. Paul Echlin writes, “Concussion is a significant public health issue that requires a generational shift. As with smoking or seat belts, it doesn’t just happen overnight — it takes a massive effort and collective movement.” I couldn’t agree more! Which leads me to this post.
I’ve previously written about this idea and I’m happy to see that I’m not alone. For this ‘generational shift’ and ‘massive effort and collective movement” to occur, we need to stop dividing ourselves. Right now, there seem to be two camps. Those who’ve had a brain injury or have a close relationship with someone who has, and those who play contact sports and relish the ‘contact’ aspect. The latter is the group that we’re trying to educate about concussions and the former is the group that knows about it all too well.
There has been a blatant ‘make them understand’ movement and, not surprisingly, it hasn’t worked overnight, or it’s been begrudgingly accepted. At times, the higher levels of an organization like the NHL or NFL have fully endorsed changes to contact rules and have subsequently, unilaterally imposed them on the players and officials. In the case of the NFL,Commissioner Roger Goodell, counter-productively and idiotically, pushed for a longer season, so players could collide more and have more opportunity to be concussed. But I digress…
It feels like there is a discernible “you’re either with us or against us” attitude. Not to get too political here, but Continue reading
This is not a prestigious list by the way, it is more of a “beware of list”, and two different companies/mouthguards have now found my ire. Perhaps I was “Pollyanna-ish” about companies continuing to claim that this particular piece of equipment can attenuate concussions or even reduce problems; it should have been fair warning with the FTC’s decision on Brain-Pad.
Any device placed in the mouth is for oral-dental protection, nothing more. Any claims otherwise are not based on any scientific evidence, because none exists to my knowledge. If you want to prevent what you see in the picture you must wear a mouthguard/device. If you want to prevent concussions, don’t participate in collision or contact sports, period.
If I told you that one company says;
“A serious blow to the head can leave you with significant physical and mental problems years after you’ve hung up your equipment. Gladiator® may prevent or reduce the severity of concussion.”
What would you say to that? But they are not the only one;
“By wearing a Guardian Mouthguard, you are helping to protect yourself against concussions!”
That will be the last time I mention those companies. I don’t like to send traffic their way, but if you do not believe me Continue reading
The goal of a writer is to bring eyes to their information/opinion to draw eyes for advertisers who in turn pay for the publishing of the article – in a very cut and dry manner. With the troubles facing sports, particularly football, more and more articles have hit the interweb; often the most cited are those that trample on our beliefs of sport.
George Will penned an article that did just that as he opined that football should be ended because it cannot be “fixed”, a growing belief amongst some. I am here to tell you that although football has its issues and concussions are high on the list, this is the case with many other sports; hockey, lacrosse and soccer being some off the top of my head. Will does have some salient points;
After 20 years of caring for her husband, Easterling’s widow is one of more than 3,000 plaintiffs — former players, spouses, relatives — in a lawsuit charging that the NFL inadequately acted on knowledge it had, or should have had, about hazards such as CTE. We are, however, rapidly reaching the point where playing football is like smoking cigarettes: The risks are well-known.[...]
Furthermore, in this age of bubble-wrapped children, when parents put helmets on wee tricycle riders, many children are going to be steered away from youth football, diverting the flow of talent to the benefit of other sports.[...]
The lawsuits have nothing to do with the risk of injury, they have everything to do with whether the league knew about the long-term risks during that time and did not disclose that to the players. The injury of concussion can occur outside of sports, in fact the majority of concussions come from recreational activities like: skate boarding, back yard touch football, playgrounds, bike riding and driving. Even if the lawsuits are a reason for Continue reading
On Paul Anderson’s (@PaulD_Anderson) NFL Concussion Litigation blog a guest post went up the other day taking on the ever-growing concern of concussion “prevention” products. The article was written by Andrew M. Belcher, MD (@the_jockdoc) and plainly explains it is buyer beware, as concussions are more than protection for the skull;
So then what we really need to prevent concussions are seatbelts and airbags for our brains inside of our skulls. Here’s one more example to make it clear. Shaken baby syndrome is caused by shaking a screaming baby back and forth to make them stop crying. Even though their head never hits anything, the shaking leads to brain damage. Would wearing a baby helmet have helped? Of course not. So how can a helmet possibly eliminate concussions in football. It can’t. Any protective device that claims to prevent concussions in a contact sport is false advertising and may be giving athletes a false sense of security. How can athletes be well informed of the risks they are taking when the advertising by equipment manufacturers minimizes the risks? The only way to prevent concussions is not to step on the field in the first place.
Very succinct and spot on, concussions are not mainly caused by linear forces to the skull; they are created by acceleration and deceleration of the brain INSIDE the skull. Products that claim that they prevent concussions are borderline fraudulent, as there is NO study available that any current product can prevent concussions. Sure, some can attenuate certain (see linear) forces to the head region, but other than a HANS device there is nothing in sport that limits the acceleration/deceleration or rotational properties of brain trauma. In fact, increasing the weight of the head can increase mass, therefore by the laws of Physic’s, increase the overall force.
There is no guessing where I stand on the claims put forth by Continue reading
Chris Wallace, a writer and editor in New York, is a former football quarterback. In the Paris Review he recently wrote a first hand story about concussions and its lasting effects. It deserves the read but here are some snipets;
Late in the third quarter of a blowout loss at North Torrance High School my junior year I woke up in a blurry huddle. Grids of stadium lighting were smeared on the South Bay night sky as if they’d been moved before they dried. My teammates stood around me in their away whites, the sateen jerseys looking smudged and shabby in the dark. I shouldn’t have been surprised if a star suddenly dilated just to wink at me, such was my loopy state of mind—and my self-regard as a high school quarterback.
A timeout had been called, apparently. There was no apparent rush to get back to the line of scrimmage, run another play. And our coach was in the huddle with us. Oh, thank god, I thought, Coach is playing. I’d never seen him in uniform before, but didn’t think to question it—we needed all the help we could get. Though, standing next to the star receiver with whom he’d traded outfits, he did look a lot taller than normal.
My second serious concussion Continue reading
digtriad.com posted a story written by WFMY News 2 about the recent report from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (NCCSIR);
Monday, researchers at UNC Chapel Hill said catastrophic brain injuries associated with full-contact football appear to be rising, especially among high school students.
They call the increase alarming and said it indicates that more coaches and athletic trainers should change how they teach the fundamental skills of the game.
Until recently, the number of football-related brain injuries with permanent disability in high school had remained in the single digits since 1984.
However, in 2008 and 2009 10 injuries were recorded and in 2011 there were 13 injuries recorded. That’s according to the latest catastrophic football injury research annual report from the UNC-based National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research.
To me it is a double-edged resource; on one hand it is good the “good ol’ boys” of the research world (aka those most listened to) have presented this material. On the other hand we have published information about this research BEFORE its release recently with the tremendous work of/by Matt Chaney.
The full report from the NCCSIR can be found here, it chronicles the catastrophic injuries from 1977 – 2011.
However with the recent and VERY accurate listings from Chaney there seems to be a difference, which Chaney so eloquently put it in an email to me; Continue reading
I had missed this article but thanks to an email I think everyone should take a look at this op-ed piece from the New York Times by Joe Nocera titled “The Cost of Football Glory“. He begins with discussing his initial thoughts after reading a 36 year-old article by Clark Booth. If you would like to read it as well here is Clark Booth at the Super Bowl: Death & Football.
But no one had ever written an article like that before Clark Booth went to Miami. I remember being thunderstruck reading it. D.D. Lewis of the Dallas Cowboys talked about having nightmares and his fear of breaking his neck. Lee Roy Jordan, a veteran Cowboys linebacker, was asked by Booth why he kept playing with a sciatic nerve condition.
“By the time I’m 55, I feel they’ll have learned enough to medically treat me,” he said. “If they can’t, I can accept that.”
Booth asked sportswriters and ex-players about the worst injury they had ever seen. Continue reading
Recently I have been introduced to “League of Fans”, a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to encourage social & civic responsibility in sports industry & culture. Although the name sounds non-germane on the surface if you dig deeper into their core principles you will see they are starting to delve into the concussion issue.
One of their first salvos is an open letter to Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League – oft criticized by me and the blog as well. Below is the letter signed by Ralph Nader and Ken Reed (reproduced with permission of League of Fans);
An Open Letter to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman:
It’s Time To Ban Fighting
If you live in Illinois/Chicago area and are a sports nut there may be a very good chance you have or constantly tune into 670 The Score. One of the more outspoken show hosts, also extremely well-rounded, is Dan Bernstein who provided a good column about concussions and the NFL;
Then, as is usually the case, the coverage focused only on the most severe impacts and extreme cases, ignoring the less spectacular times and places where the real damage is being done.
And once again, the real conversation never happens.
Colt McCoy getting blasted into next week by James Harrison makes for exciting video. The ensuing soap-opera aftermath drove discussion, as does the story of the Chargers’ Kris Dielman taking a shot to the head, going back into the game, and suffering a seizure on the flight home.
Bernstein uses his platform Continue reading
Sometime today Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), headed by Dr. Robert Cantu and Chris Nowinski are going to release a “white paper” that will “plan to spread successful NFL policy changes to all youth sports,” this according to Irvin Muchnick via his blog Concussion Inc.
What is a white paper? Glad you asked it is important for context (via Wikipedia);
A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that helps solve a problem. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions, and may be a consultation as to the details of new legislation. The publishing of a white paper signifies a clear intention on the part of a government to pass new law. White Papers are a “ … tool of participatory democracy … not [an] unalterable policy commitment. “White Papers have tried to perform the dual role of presenting firm government policies while at the same time inviting opinions upon them.”
It is mentioned that along with SLI, Boston University’s Center for the Study of Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy (headed by Dr. Ann McKee) will be in the white paper as well.
I will be interested to see what exactly they are Continue reading
Bending the rules for a star is not uncommon, heck we see it almost every week in the NFL as players are initially reported to have “dirt in the eye”, or “back spasms”, etc. However it is rare that you see an overt “relaxing” of rules to possibly allow them to play. It has happened in the UK in Premiere League Soccer, the team is
Arsenal Manchester United and the player is Rio Ferdinand (bold my emphasis);
Ferdinand claimed on Twitter that he ‘could not remember’ what happened during United’s 3-0 victory over Bolton at Old Trafford on Saturday.
He also admitted he had suffered concussion, which under previous FA rules meant he would automatically miss the next 10 days.
But the FA have relaxed the guidelines and Ferdinand, 33, will now be put through a thorough medical examination.
Thanks to twitter both @SportsDocSkye and @SportsDoc_Chris find that the article as I have presented it and was reported in the link is inaccurate. I appreciate them following and correcting this issue (also my stupidity when it comes to European Futbol). The issue that needs correcting is that the current FA concussion guidelines follow the Zurich statement and a player will follow graduated return to play, meaning the 10 day issue is moot…
I was reading an editorial in the Star Tribune about how the concussion laws could be a detriment to coaches and teams, when I came across some good Continue reading
From the inbox, an article;
Man oh man do I feel really bad for these guys — and for you and me too. Bad for them because they are the ones going through the trauma of the head injury and all the terrible symptoms that follow with the diagnosis of a concussion. It is one thing to lose the ability to stick handle a puck, take a check at center ice without feeling like your brains got scrambled, or even jump the boards for your next shift. That’s the game. It is totally a whole different story when you forget where your daughter’s school is, what date your wife’s birthday falls on, or even the desire to get out of bed in the morning — that’s life.
What else is awful about the concussion plague spreading around the hockey community? Well the fact that these players have devoted so much time, energy, and life into getting to the top professional league of the hockey world and in a moments flash the dream is or could be gone. How the hell would you feel if since age 4-5 you have been skating and where told no more. How the hell would you feel if you have been traveling all-around North America and beyond since the squirt/atom or pee wee days only to have your life-long dream in the NHL cut short. How the hell would you feel about all the sacrifice and commitment your family made over the years so you could do the thing you love, now perhaps just a distant memory.
That is how Russ Bitely, @russbites, started his article Continue reading
If you have followed for the past few months you will notice a big increase of posts on one journalists offerings: Mike Florio. He has taken up the “professional” version of what we have been doing for the past 16 months here on The Concussion Blog. Although Florio was not an initial proponent of the athletic trainer looking down from above, it seems that he has warmed to the idea.
What that move has done is begin the motion of putting independent neurologist on the sideline/stadium for the evaluation process. Florio has outlined the basic premise as to why it makes the best sense, but in his most recent post he makes the strongest case yet; Continue reading
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” Continue reading
Irvin Muchnick is a writer and investigative journalist who previously mainly focused on the WWE. Muchnick has changed gears a bit and started Concussion Inc, a website focusing on the head injury issue.
On Friday, on Beyond Chron, Irv Muchnick wrote about the appearance of a conflict of interest between the Centers for Disease Control and the National Football League, in regards to the upcoming panel and recommendations. In the article Irv was right to point out that the federally funded CDC is taking outside monies for the first time;
A CDC spokeswoman admitted to me that the NFL’s $150,000 grant for “Heads Up” marked “the first time the CDC Foundation has received external funding to help support” this initiative, which has a decade-long history encompassing various outreach to health care professionals and patients, school professionals, sports coaches, parents, and kids and teens. (CDC’s own funding for this program has averaged around $200,000 a year.)
Which brings into question who will be in control of the recommendations? Will the people shaping the foundation of concussion management, aimed at athletic trainers and doctors, actually have representatives in place? I am not talking about the usual suspects that may hold a MD or ATC tag – the ones who do Yoeman’s work in the research field – rather some of the “boots on the ground” if you will. Yes there are some Continue reading
Ken Dryden was an amazing goalie in the NHL, and has been around long enough to see the transformation of the sport. Hockey is a very exciting game to watch and really many are missing out on its action. I continue to tell everyone that there is nothing like a NHL game in the stands, probably the best event one can go to (unless you score a Game 7 ticket in the playoffs). The issue that Dryden is taking on is one that I have been clamoring for – for a long time – remove shots to the head. Dryden wrote his article for Grantland and is calling on the NHL and NFL to start playing “head smart”;
This is a difficult time for the NHL, for its commissioner, Gary Bettman, and for hockey. It’s no less difficult for the NFL, for its commissioner, Roger Goodell, for the NCAA, and for football. Head injuries have become an overwhelming fact of life in sports. The immensity of the number, the prominence of the names, the life-altering impact on their lives, and, more disturbing, if that’s possible, the now sheer routineness of their occurrence. The Crosby hit didn’t seem like much. If it hadn’t been Crosby, the clip of the incident would never have made the highlight reel. And if so much can happen out of so little, where is all this going? Who else? How many more? How bad might this get? Careers and lives of players, we know now, have been shortened, diminished, snuffed out by head injuries. What once had seemed debatable, deniable, spin-able, now is not. What once had been ignored now is obvious. Not just contact or collision sports, hockey and football are dangerous sports.
Dryden does not suggest to Bettman, rather implores him to make necessary changes; Continue reading
Irvin Muchnick is a writer and investigative journalist writing focusing mainly on the WWE. Muchnick has been heavily involved in the concussion issue in the WWE and its crossover as well.
Irv has been and will continue to be looking at how the media and other entities cover the concussion issue. Recently he has taken a close look at the New York Times and Alan Schwarz as it relates to concussions (LINK);
An examination of the Newspaper of Record’s coverage over the last six months suggests that the answer is it is leading us to a world made safe for the National Football League and its $9-plus billion in annual revenues.
Pay plenty of lip service to the alleged mental health toll for the thousands upon thousands of professional and amateur athletes employed by the NFL or in its orbit – but also make sure all the opinion-making honor and Continue reading
Matt Chaney is a former football player and even self-described “juicer” during his time in the game. He used his first hand experience to write a book about steroids in football “Spiral of Denial: Muscle Doping in American Football“, and now has taken his focus on the concussion issue. Chaney is what I like to call a “pseudo contributor” to The Concussion Blog, he has helped with finding many articles and topics on this blog. Behind the scenes Matt is one of the most profound people to spark conversation, and has very “real” views on this issue; not to mention that Chaney is a very good journalist. (This post is part 2 of an excerpt preview for a pending analysis on Chaney’s Blog, ‘Brain Trauma Stalks Football Players, Dictates Impact Game Reform,’ which will include independent experts’ recommendations for constructive steps imperative to the sport’s survival at public schools and colleges.)
A couple of months after Matt Chaney took a hard look at Neuropsychological Testing he now looks at how the media has been handling the issue. Matt holds nothing back as his analysis and opinion make people take a look at how things are being done. Chaney has even given The Concussion Blog some of his feedback and we listen to every point. Some of his points are clear but yet seem to be overlooked;
Despite the contemporary campaign of “concussion awareness” and “culture change” for tackle football, as game officials and media promote, America essentially remains insensitive to brain disorder in victims and especially athletes.
“Generally speaking, mankind does not empathize with brain diseases as well as with physical ailments; there is this negative response, culturally, for diseases of the brain,” said Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who first discovered cerebral damage in an American football player, deceased NFL lineman Mike Webster.
“If you talk about having mental disorder, psychological disease, people wouldn’t empathize with you,” Omalu said. “Rather, they would Continue reading
This video is from Fox Sports and is a quick editorial from Dr. Mark Adickes (@jocktodoc) about the concussion issue, particularly the Dave Duerson case;
It has not been easy for former players to discuss the issue of concussions and head injuries. In fact, you rarely hear from the most prominent (analysts, talking heads, etc.), some of them you hear misinformation from, or lack of education on the matter (Mike Golic, Mark Schlereth, Hines Ward, etc.). However recently one of the most well-known “talking heads” and former quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, is now revealing his current dealings with repeated head trauma. In a report on CBSSports.com and Will Brinson, Bradshaw tells all;
The latest former player to speak out against long-term concussion symptoms is a big name: FOX Sports NFL pregame host Terry Bradshaw, who revealed on Tuesday that he’s suffering from short-term memory loss and the loss of hand-eye coordination as a result of brain injuries suffered when he was in the NFL.
Brinson did a wonderful job of tracking down the subtle hints that Bradshaw has been laying down; Continue reading
Jeff Pearlman of SI.com has wrote an editorial delving into ways to curb the head injuries in football, more specifically the NFL. The op-ed piece is on CNN.com as well. He proposes five ideas to curb the issue;
• Change the helmets: When it comes to helmets, the clichéd belief is that the NFL needs to delve into its bag of technological tricks to come up with a safer, more secure, more layered product. That’s nonsense. In professional football, a hard hit is a hard hit, and if one’s head is jarred by a 300-pound man flying through the air at full speed, no amount of outer protection will save his brain from rattling against his skull.
• Ignore the desires of the NFL’s executives and owners: As we speak, the league and the union are fighting over various issues and trying to avoid a lockout. One of the key points is the league’s so-insanely-and-ruthlessly-greedy-it-makes-me-want-to-vomit desire to move from a 16- to 18-game regular season.
• Suspend players for the season: How about this? Continue reading
Denise Crosby has seen her share of football and admittedly loved every second her sons were playing; that was before knowing what she knows now. Crosby has written an op-ed piece for The Herald-News of the Chicago area;
Now, honestly, I wish the four of them had never donned pads and a helmet. Of course, that’s easy to say now that I no longer have sons playing under those seductive Friday night lights. Or that I’ll never have to tell a little Pop Warner superstar he’s hanging up his cleats and going out for swimming instead.
I’m enough of a football mom to understand why so many ex-athletes say they have no regrets about playing the sport, even those who have to bury their comrades.
Crosby also took time to ask others in the area about concussions and the risk involved for those that play. One such person was Kurt Becker, Continue reading
Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun Times has written some good articles on the issue of concussions and head trauma, as it relates to sports. In a recent article, post Super Bowl, he wrote about the undercurrent of head injuries in the NFL;
But if you can hack through the noise and pseudo-symbolism of our favorite billion-dollar, entertainment-driven sport, what you will hear, still softly drumming, is the danger of head trauma.
Yes, there has been a lot of talk of late about brain injury caused by sport. But the danger hasn’t vanished just because it has been labeled.
Pros are pros. And it could be argued that grown men have the right to risk their own health. As Steelers receiver Hines Ward, who had seven receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s big game, said, ‘‘It’s my body. I feel like if I want to go back out there, I should have the right.’’
He was talking about what a player should be allowed to do after suffering a concussion.
Hines’ logic is debatable, but it’s not the point here.
He went on further to discuss our leading cause here, the adolescent brain Continue reading
The Morning Call newspaper has responded to the editorial/opinion of columnist Paul Carpenter (our take here), by printing some responses the paper received after the publishing of the column. Included in the article were responses from the bill sponsor, State Senator Pat Browne, President of PA Athletic Trainer’s Society, Gregory Jank, and three other athletic trainers.
You can read the article in full HERE. This was a class move by The Morning Call and along with this Carpenter is set to respond tomorrow as well.
I would like to say thank you to all that took the time to respectfully and professionally respond to the Morning Call and Mr. Carpenter, as action has been taken and will be further examined in tomorrows column.