There is one person in the media that can be classified as the pioneer of “concussion coverage”, his name is Alan Schwarz. Since roughly the mid-2000’s Schwarz has been on the beat of national stories involving concussions. He was recently nominated for a Pulitzer for his work in the area and now he has moved on. According to Irv Muchnick, Schwarz’s title has changed to “national education reporter.”
I echo the sentiments of Muchnick; Schwarz opened up the national dialogue on concussions, he is one of the main reasons people have begun to pay attention. Just think without him and the New York Times we may have never heard about Chris Nowinski, Bennet Omalu, the Boston University Brain Bank, etc. No matter where anyone stands on the current protocols/research/assessment for concussions, A LOT of this discussion should be attributed to Alan Schwarz.
To be honest it was a huge “bucket list” goal that I was quoted in a Schwarz article, and when I was not only was it unexpected, but it was a GREAT honor. For many years this journalist has brought the credibility and a voice to the concussion issue that many struggled with. Without his work this blog and information that is compiled here would really ring hollow. Those that deal with concussions on a daily basis, athletic trainers and doctors, have known about issues but the stigma of a “bell-ringer” only begun to change when Schwarz started writing about it. It was coverage like his that started to give us something to point to that was not written in “scientific terms” so that the masses (mom’s/dad’s/coaches/athletes) could understand it and digest it.
It is unclear if someone will replace Schwarz on the concussion beat, if you will, but now is NOT THE TIME for there to be a reduction of coverage. In the time since he started his writing concussion information has changed – rapidly at that – and it shows no sign of slowing, rather it will be increasing. As we learn more about long-term issues, technology, and assessment techniques to keep athletes safe there needs to be coverage. There are great sources out there; Will Carroll, Irv Muchnick, and the many regional journalists that can provide it, but really the issue needs to be continued on a national front. Maybe the “national rags” need to have a journalist that is specializing in sports medicine as a whole, apart from the usual “Health/Lifestyle” type journalists – a hybrid of sports and health. This individual would be good at all aspects of injuries in the ever-increasing sporting world, with a keen eye on concussions… Until the stigma has completely changed.
Thank you Alan for your time and efforts you have put down a GREAT foundation for those of us to follow, one day when we hear the term concussion we will ALL understand what it means, in terms of yesterday, today and tomorrow.