Comments like these trickle down to the lower levels, either because the youth look up to players or their comments make ‘sense’ to them as football players;
“If I have a concussion these days, I’m going to say something happened to my toe or knee just to get my bearings for a few plays,” he told HBO’s Andrea Kremer during an interview for Real Sports. “I’m not going to sit in there and say I got a concussion, I can’t go in there the rest of the game.”
The above is attributed to all-pro linebacker Brian Urlacher and may be a popular/majority sentiment within the NFL locker room. Brace yourself for the upcoming rant…
As professional athletes and adults I don’t think that players are exactly wrong in having these feelings, heck it is their job. Given all the information about the lasting effects of all injuries and concussions players assume the risk. That being said if they choose to abide by such comments these players should not be filing law suits after the fact.
The real issue is that comments like Urlacher’s place adolescents and youth in danger. Words and actions by players in sport are often emulated by those that “look up” to them; the “role model”. Concussions are something that are very different for the developing brain compared to their adult counterparts. Playing through a concussion for the younger athlete can set into motion the deadly Second Impact Syndrome, something that no one wants. These comments can also set-back the education of concussions; fact is that some kids and parents use athletes as authorities on certain matters, injuries included. I have sat with parents and high school kids who try to explain their injury is just like “Pro Player A” and that they will be just like them in recovery. I have to spend the next 20 minutes explaining the difference between them and the high school athlete; mainly telling them the resources they have for recovery are greater than they have, let alone they are adults.
For those that don’t believe that there is a trickle down effect in both actions and style of play from the professional level, you have not been paying much attention to adolescent sports. This is an opportunity for high level leagues to promote the proper treatment of concussions. Even if you players are saying the “wrong” things, it is now when the NFL and teams can hammer home why comments like Urlacher are ONLY OK for professional adults. A disclaimer if you will.
If there is one thing that will cost very little, it is this in the concussion battle. Proper awareness will lead to better management of concussion injuries. Urlacher shouldn’t be looked down upon for having these feelings, he should be made aware of how his comments could affect the lives of kids who look up to him. Times are changing, maybe one day Brian will want to have memories of his son growing up and doing the things he loved; playing through concussions will only make that more difficult for him.