Bill Is Bogus or Paul Is Bogus? You Make The Call…

Just minding my business going over some things about the site before my paternity leave, soon (wife is so ready to get our third into the world she is miserable, I feel for her) and I get a tweet from @kbkorte asking if I had seen a particular editorial.  I had not and since work beckoned I didn’t get time till later in the day.  It was about concussions, in particular the Pennsylvania proposed bill, and how this writer/journalist Paul Carpenter thinks its “bogus”.

He started his editorial with the backdrop of hockey and helmets, making the case that he felt he was “safer” without one on, and even went as far as saying that only football should be required to wear a helmet.  He used Gordy Howe as the example of someone who played until he was 52 and “seems fine” now.  Then he went on about Sidney Crosby;

Now that the use of helmets in the NHL is concomitant with a plague of head injuries not noticed when players played bare-headed, there is an ever-increasing emphasis on bigger helmets, along with rules to make the sport less rough and tough.

The NHL story focused on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ brilliant center, Sidney Crosby, sidelined since Jan. 5 with post-concussion symptoms (the result of getting bumped while playing with a helmet).

“Bumped”?  Really?  I bet Mr. Crosby didn’t think he was “bumped”, perhaps Mr. Carpenter is a true “tough guy” in the sport of hockey and to him it was just a “bump”, although I will point out that Mr. Carpenter was not on the ice to feel the forces of the “bump”.  Secondly, I believe that Mr. Carpenter is lacking the education about concussions that most have come to understand, well at least us “trainers” have known and been taught, I will get to that in a second.  The FACT is that anyone can sustain a concussion WITHOUT being hit in the head.  Yes helmets are there to protect the brain case from collisions, more importantly flying frozen pucks and errant sticks.  No helmet in ANY SPORT will protect against all concussions, because its the forces translated to the head that creates the concussion.  Twisting and shearing of the brain causes the cascade release of neurotransmitters and Ca+ (calcium for you Mr. Carpenter) causing the symptoms of a concussion and making the injury real.

This leads me to my rant, it’s not about him not knowing all about concussions, that is what this blog, writers like Alan Schwarz/Ben McGrath and HIGHLY EDUCATED individuals are for.  However Mr. Carpenter thinks that athletic trainers are well…  you read and decide;

A trainer? In some schools, trainers are nothing but flunkies for coaches, some of whom are willing to do anything to win.

Yup, direct quote from his editorial.

“Flunkies for coaches”?  Really?  Does Mr. Carpenter know exactly what an ATHLETIC TRAINER is, not a “trainer”?  I am guessing he has no clue.  Does he realize that to become an ATHLETIC TRAINER, who is a recognized health care provider, we must at the minimum graduate from a four-year ACCREDITED university/college with specific classes and background education.  Classes like: Physics, Anatomy & Physiology, Kinesiology, Biomechanics, Organinc Chemistry, and various other classes that he would not dream of taking.  Not to mention the specific classes of: Injury Prevention, Modalities, Rehabilitation, Injury Assessment, Emergency Management.  I don’t think Mr. Carpenter knows that ALL ATHLETIC TRAINERS must sit for AND pass a national board exam prior to becoming a health care provider.

Perhaps Mr. Carpenter did not know that ATHLETIC TRAINER is not synonymous with trainer, nor did he know that ALL athletic training schools devote a lions share of their time on concussions and head injuries.  Even if a school chooses to use a four-week module on it, that information and education FAR OUTWEIGHS the knowledge and education of some physicians about concussions.  What is “uh-oh” for me is the notes I get back from MD’s and DO’s who have told the injured athlete they can return to sport whenever they feel like it, and when quizzing the athlete they DID tell the physician that they were still experiencing symptoms.  Granted we are NOT MD’s, but the athletic trainer is more than capable and fair-minded to make a determination about concussions.

As for his comment about “doing anything to win”, he is dead on right, we will do anything to win, however he forgot the part that states we will do anything to win, SAFELY and will not jeopardize the injured athlete.  You see Mr. Carpenter, athletic trainers are there for the safety of the individual, and although passionate about their school/team they have made a pledge to keep all their “patients” safe and out of harms way.  I also want to note that the assistant director of PIAA should also be informed and educated about ATHLETIC TRAINERS.

I have a call into Mr. Carpenter looking for a response, I am sure he would email me back but I am going to wait for a call and interview him for a follow-up story.  However if you are bored you can call him too at 610-820-6176 or email him at  I encourage you to use the UTMOST professionalism  and civility when doing so.

8 thoughts on “Bill Is Bogus or Paul Is Bogus? You Make The Call…

  1. Lauren February 3, 2011 / 15:23

    This is comical…it’s amazing how many ignorant people there are out in the world. Mr. Carpenter should learn more about concussions before he puts his opinion out there. Scarily, sports’ governing bodies, like FIFA, are made up of these ignorant people.

  2. Craig French February 3, 2011 / 18:36

    Not to mention Car

  3. Craig French February 3, 2011 / 18:38

    Sorry for the partial comment above. Should be: Not to mention Carpenter confuses correlation with causality in his argument about helmets. Sad…

  4. Andrew Rizza February 4, 2011 / 09:13

    Is this guy for real? Obviously he is a complete idiot and doesn’t have any idea of the educational background of an ATC and that a majority of us also hold masters degrees in other applied health care professions as well. He seems like a person that just like to listen to himself talk.

  5. Joe Luther February 4, 2011 / 11:57

    haha very comical. I’m a sr. athletic training studet at King’s College. Our head AT Greg Janik (president of pennsylvania atheltic training society) and PATS are currently taking action on this article Paul Carpenter wrote. Just to put you in the loop, he has contacted a sports writer that works for the same paper (The Morning Call (out of Bethlehem, PA my hometown)), who wrote a great article about AT’s and how important we are from fall 2009, to see if he’d be willing to write another peiece about us. he also contacted the competiting paper The Express Times about writing an educated piece about ATs. Greg also will be appearing on a lehigh valley sports show in which he will be given about 10 minutes to discuss the new bill and will be touching base on this subject matter. I’m glad this has brought up a lot of interest because its people like paul that has given our profession a bad name.

  6. brokenbrilliant February 5, 2011 / 08:07

    One of the problems with “ill-informed” comments like this is that it doesn’t just slander a much-needed profession, but it also indirectly compromises kids’ safety by undermining the credibility of the very ones who can protect them. About the last thing we need is yet more dismissal of the dangers of brain injury in sports and the people who are actually equipped to address it.

  7. Scott February 8, 2011 / 15:21

    I just saw this column today via the NATA twitter feed. I can only describe my feelings as furious. I was about to share it with you but am glad to see that you already knew of this craziness. I blogged about it a little bit but what I’m actually thinking, I don’t want to write. He’s supposed to respond to our criticism tomorrow.

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