Show Critiques (CNN and ESPN)

Yesterday there were two important shows that aired.  One on ESPN, the Outside the Lines presentation on helmets and the other was a documentary by CNN and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

CNN and Dr. Sanjay Gupta presented an hour-long look into the concussion issue, mainly at the high school level.  Although the main press is with the professionals, the time spent at the high school was a HUGE KEY to making this documentary a success.  Like we have been posting on this blog for the past 18+ months the real issue with concussions begin at or earlier than high school.  This is not only because there are obviously more participants at the HS level, but it is also where kids are learning and learning how to learn.  In short the high school level is where the brain is functioning the hardest.

The presentation was excellent, it not only provided the current (subjectivity) but exploding (CTE) issues in the concussion discussion, but exposed a real solution to the issue.

I thought the production team did an excellent job in finding/presenting as much of the overall story on concussions, from Dr. Kevin Guskewicz to Dr. Ann McKee to the local sports medicine MD’s.  The biggest need in the concussion issue at the high school level was plainly exposed by Dr. Gupta: Athletic Trainers.  Although the overriding theme of the show was about concussions I thought that if anyone was really watching last night that one of the first and most vital steps in the battle against concussion problems is hiring an athletic trainer.  Honestly at this point in my career I wonder how schools can even allow the sport of football without one present.

If you missed it make every attempt to watch it again, I am sure you will be able to find it online at some point as well.


The other story yesterday was the Outside the Lines issue on both specific issues on Riddell and reconditioning of any helmet – both issues are a problem.  The first being that marketing and cooked research can be used for any product to promote something it is not.  What OTL was pointing out was that questioned studies were used to promote Riddell’s product, the kind of information that Senator Udall is looking to either regulate or get rid of.

Knowing what we know about the research and with all the discussion about the “who” behind this particular issue, it did escape me as to why there was not a more definite finger-pointing at the principal people who helped create the issue.  I don’t think I will “pan” this show as Irv Muchnick has, but I will say they could have gone further, as could Sen. Udall.

The second part of the OTL issue was about reconditioning of football helmets and how it can be a shady business.  Not only are there issues with how and what is specifically being done to each individual helmet – improper pads and even crack helmets returned for play with sicker on – but also about the testing of the helmet.  Although NEARA is “throwing out” helmets after 10 years it should be known that helmets that are properly taken care of and maintained would last longer than 10 years.  The OTL issue opens up the need to find better testing for helmets, even highlighting the Virgina Tech Study.


Overall I thought the 90 minutes in front of the TV was very enlightening and needed for not only the general public, but for anyone that has kids that can be exposed to concussion incidents.

We would love to hear your comments below!

8 thoughts on “Show Critiques (CNN and ESPN)

  1. Tracey Mayer January 30, 2012 / 08:54

    Hi, Dustin

    I also loved that Gupta focused on the critical aspect of the high school players. I had tears in my eyes throughout the show because it was like reliving parts of what Drew has gone through. There was an athletic trainer on the field when Drew was injured, but he clearly did not know the ramifications of what had happenend, in fact when I told him that Drew had been complaining of dizziness the 2 weeks prior he kind of chuckled and said well then we won’t put him back in the game and then asked if it was ok for Drew to ride home on the bus with the team. Undoubtedly, if Drew’s injury happened today in front of the same trainer it would be handled in a completely different manner. That makes me smile 🙂

    Tracey Fernandez

  2. Joe Bloggs January 30, 2012 / 09:27

    Regarding helmet testing and reconditioning:

    Yet another instance of convenience trumping scientific inquiry. Why ten years to retire the shell? In some environments could it be more or less (higher UV and heat exposure in the South or Cold in the North.) Do different positions cause different wear and tear? What about fit or damage done by poor handling and storage.

    This is just a cliff test not based on numbers. It seems in most cases newer helmets simply look more up-to-date and may not offer better better safety. I am also not a fan of telemetry as the science and modeling of what force are projected into the brain and nervous system are primitive.

    • Jon January 30, 2012 / 12:58


      Long time reader first time poster. I watched the CNN Special last night and I felt like it was very well done, I just wish they had gone into the effects of CTE or repeated blows to the head a little more to show parents and student-athletes the dangers of concussions.

      • Dustin Fink January 30, 2012 / 13:11


        I agree on the CTE issue, however even though there is plenty of anecdotal evidence, there still remains a direct linkage… It is getting much closer, what I believe the story did well was introduce the issue. And as you recall we here have been way ahead of that curve… It is wonderful to see this story on that platform.

        In reflection what is troubling is that we don’t see the sports networks putting something like this together on a frequent basis. I know OTL has and continues to broach the subject, but it seems that if anyone has a dog in the fight they are timid to jump into the information.

        Hence the need for independent information.

        BTW, thanks for continuing to visit the site!

      • Jon January 30, 2012 / 17:31


        Agreed….. as a fellow ATC, I applaud the information this blog presents on a daily basis. Great job!!

  3. Michael Hopper January 30, 2012 / 14:45

    I thought the CNN piece was excellent! We must continue to work and it was nice to see the Certified Athletic Trainer brought before a national audience by CNN. This is a great piece to take and run with as National Athletic Training Month comes up in a few weeks…

  4. Jake Benford January 31, 2012 / 00:53

    Unfortunately I accidently only recorded the 30 min intro to the show. Over all it was a good intro and informative. The lasting impression however is of Brandy Christain talking about ways to prevent concussions all the while repeatedly demonstrating the proper heading technique with a group of young girls. We still have a way to go.

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