Last night was our last varsity game, though we have one more JV game in about 30 minutes (thanks to my student for getting it all set up). From a concussion standpoint, we ended the varsity season with a total of 4 concussions. Over a nine-game schedule that is less than .5 per game. The rate would be 45 players divided by concussions for a rate of 11.45 on the season, slightly higher than current rates.
That is what leads me to this post. In our last game, we faced a team that has athletic trainers by the name of John Storsved and Steven Broglio, PhD. Both are active in the athletic training community, working at nearby state universities. Dr. Broglio is working with the HITS program (helmet sensors) at the University of Illinois. John is the Clinical Instructor for athletic training at Eastern Illinois. Prior to the game, the three of us were engaged in “nerd” talk about the increase in concussion rates.
We have all observed more concussions this season and were discussing possible causes of this alarming trend. Although didn’t reach a consensus on a singular cause, we did all agree that awareness has increased across the board. Parents, coaches, and student-athletes are allowing more access to the “unseen/unreported” concussions of the past. But one topic we did spend some time on was the violence and velocity of the hits kids are taking and delivering these days. This too could be a reason for an increase in concussions. This leads me to my editorial for the day.
NFL players are getting paid millions to, in effect, destroy their bodies, brains included. However, I feel that kids are emulating what they see on Sundays by taking to the field on Fridays. The lowering of the head is something that coaches DO NOT teach, yet we see the best football players in the world continually do it, without penalty. Last night I saw and heard a perfect example from one of our players.
He was blocking late on a play where there was a scrum and launched himself into the pile head first to make a block/hit. It WAS NOT flagged (should have been), and he came off to the sidelines. I asked this player what he was thinking and why he did that. His response…”They do it in the NFL.”
The only advantage I have in this arguement with my kids is that I am also a football official and I tell them that I would have flagged their illegal hit immediately.
Of course, on the flip side of that discussion, the last time I had to throw a flag for that was in a pee wee league. (As you can imagine, I don’t work very many high school games as an official due to conflicting schedules.) The most appaling thing I have ever heard was the assistant coach screaming “That hit is just a part of the game!” That earned him a quick unsportsmanlike foul and subsequent ejection when he used foul language after that.
I guess my point is to keep the effort to educate people as the highest priority. Thereare a few officials who are listening, but they are such a precious few. Don’t despair and keep pointing out the issue and take advantage of every teachable moment.
When stating that your concussion rate was less than .5 per game you’re leaving out one slightly important fact – 80% of all sports concussions are NOT reported or recorded. I realize athletic trainers believe they catch all or most concussions but I can tell you from experience that you’re fooling yourself if you think that! Athletes are pretty skilled at hiding concussions from trainers, coaches and players. Add in the Purdue study’s finding that many athletes have brain injury without concussion and the number of athletes with a brain injury/concussion, is much higher than .5/game.
Don’t misunderstand the observed concussion rate from the actual concussion rate in sports. I am very aware of the athletes hiding concussions. That is why it is VERY necessary for athletic trainers to be available at events, they are better than most at finding out the problem. If you look through the blog you will see that I have documented this A LOT. Even have posted about kids not telling me the truth and I still held them out based on my general feelings on their disposition.
Once again thanks for the comment, but I believe that you think that the .55/game rate is for all sports, it is not, it is just for our past season. Can those other athletes hide them from me, ABSOLUTELY. But it would be highly doubtful.
Is there a better solution? Not really, kids will never be truthful with coaches, especially if playing time is on the line. An impartial person that knows the athlete is much better than a coach or parent.
And at our school that was the number, documented, so we really cannot debate that.
Thanks for visiting.