Patrick Hruby is not new to this blog, as he was highlighted with his commentary on brain trauma and football back in 2010. His newest article has been out about 24 hours and it has provoked quite the response from many different locations, mostly silence. There are articles that come out that see like a lightning rod for comments, “End Game: Brain Trauma and the Future of Youth Football in America” has provided the opposite: silence.
It could be that the article appearing on Yahoo! Sports blog The Post Game has not been viewed enough to get a response; very unlikely as it was trumpeted around the Twitterverse by many people. Rather, I believe, it may have caused many people to sit back and think. Hruby looked at what Drew Rickerson and his mother Jean (founder/developer of sportsconcussions.org) went through in 2008;
No one had a clue. Not his coaches. Not his teammates. Not even his mother, looking on from her usual spot in the grandstand. On a foggy November night four years ago, Drew Rickerson found himself wandering around the sidelines of a football field in Sequim, Wash., a city of 6,600 on the state’s Olympic peninsula. He was 15 years old, playing quarterback for the Sequim High varsity football team in the final game of the regular season, a week away from the state playoffs. He also was struggling to speak, dazed and disoriented, hardly able to drink water.
Hruby traces the issue from the beginning of the injury to the trials and tribulation of the family eventually to what has been found since that time about the brain injury of concussion.
It is a very well written piece that shows the obvious dilemma that we currently face with youth football, yet we are very unprepared to talk about or even address;
“A number of studies have compared the number of concussions athletic trainers report versus anonymous self-reported studies by players,” says Bigosinski, who works at the Rush University Medical Center and is a team doctor for the Chicago White Sox, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and DePaul University athletics. “It’s 5-10 percent by trainers, but self-reporting by players went up to like 40-70 percent had a concussion in the past season. That means you are missing nine out of 10 concussions sometimes. Someone didn’t recognize the injury, or the player didn’t tell anybody. That is a huge issue.”
As I was driving to my school I happened to pass by a radio station that was talking about football and concussions, I stopped the dial to listen, it was Rush Limbaugh. He was explaining that, in his so eloquent way, the media is helping the demise of football. Rush was quite staunch in his opinion that football was a game and that it had inherent risks but if people chose to assess and play the sport they accepted those risks (he was actually comparing it to politics and government control, I know imagine that). That above assertion I do not disagree with, in fact I have expressed such on this very blog, but it ONLY deals with adults; those that can make the informed decisions about their OWN bodies.
What Hruby is showing is that the risks involved with the sport of youth football – rather youth gladiator sport – may be too much for the developing brain, insurances, medicine and even the sport itself. However there are solutions, which may ultimately not be the best but it is better than nothing: athletic trainers, proper management, hit limitations, age restrictions on full contact, and just plain better awareness.
This worthwhile piece by Hruby combined with the random listening of Rush Limbaugh makes it evident that the issue of brain injury is now in the mass media. Doing nothing at this juncture, while evidence stares us in the face, would be almost as bad as sanctioning a return to how things were done before 2008. What I find very interesting is the utter silence that I have observed over the last few days.
Perhaps it is the collective finally sitting down and thinking.