College Football Concussions

There are times when surveying the injuries of a said sport are handy in discerning a problem or a trend, you see it every week with our data analysis of NFL concussions (also Aussie Rules Football, MLB, NBA and NHL).  One section of sport I learned early on that was difficult – at best – to track were NCAA or lower level concussions.  Not only does HIPAA prevent a lot of that information from coming out, there are so many programs/teams it’s a massive undertaking.

Ask John Gonoude, who attempted this monumental feat last year and was only able to stomach 11 weeks of it before it became an issue.  Then I was sent some articles from Matt Chaney about what has been written about college concussions recently, for a response…  Well you are going to get one.

The first article appeared in the news cycle on September 13th from The Michigan Daily;

After only two weeks of collegiate football, USA Today reported 15 concussions among injured NCAA players. In 2008, the Boston University School of Medicine released a statement linking repeated concussions to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Describing CTE as “a progressive degenerative disease of the brain,” the university connected CTE to “the development of memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, paranoid and aggressive behavior, depression, dementia and Parkinsonism.” With thirteen weeks left, the NCAA should take action to reduce the number of concussions and protect players.

The article is good for reporting the issues with concussions, speaking of long-term, but the initial sentence is what is baffling to me.  15 concussions in two weeks, that is absolutely false.  As Chaney opined that should be the number of concussions per team at the current rates.  Heck in week 11 of last year there were 19 alone and the rate of concussions per week in FBS last year through 11 weeks was 16.1/week.  There is no way the NCAA had only 15 concussions through two weeks.

The next article came out last Friday and it was in the BloombergBusinessweek;

Concussions suffered by college football players in games were 26 percent lower last year than seven years earlier, according to a study conducted for the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The survey by Indianapolis-based Datalys Center showed the incidence of concussions in all three football divisions was 2.5 per 1,000 players who took the field for a game in the 2011-12 season as compared to 3.4 per 1,000 in 2004-05.

David Klossner, the NCAA’s director of health and safety, called the findings encouraging and said more data needs to be gathered over a longer period before firm conclusions can be drawn.

Mr. Klossner is right about one thing, more data needs to be gathered.  If you look at John Gonoude’s excellent work last year, through 11 weeks of FBS Division I football there were 198 concussions.  Now unless the tracking was somehow better seven years ago – which it wasn’t – and the protocols were more stringent seven years ago – which they weren’t, perhaps they have a leg to stand on.  Although they did not release the concussion numbers for DI last year, I am willing to go out on a limb and say they missed some.  If that is with 117ish teams only in FBS football, can you imagine the number of concussions if you count FCS, DII, and DIII football where there are more teams.  Just look at our information for 11 weeks;

  • 198 reported concussions/head injuries [including pre-season scrimmages/practices] (179 W10)
  • 177 reported concussions/head injuries [during the regular season] (158 W10)
  • 262 projected reported concussions [including the pre-season] (258 W10)
  • 241 projected reported concussions [during the regular season] (237 W10)
  • 16.1 reported concussions per week (15.8 W10)
  • 0.28 reported concussions per game (0.27 W10)
  • 105 Offensive, 91 Defensive, 2 Special Teams [Kicker/Punter]
    • QB- 18, RB- 20, WR- 32, TE- 8, OL- 27
    • DL- 17, LB- 23, DB- 49
    • K/P- 2
  • Concussions by Academic/Athletic Seniority
    • Freshman- 30, (RS) Freshman- 11
    • Sophomore- 40, (RS) Sophomore- 11
    • Junior- 48, (RS) Junior- 7
    • Senior- 42, (RS) Senior- 9

This makes absolute no sense to me and smells of a cover up or misinterpretation of the statistics.



One thought on “College Football Concussions

  1. joe bloggs September 24, 2012 / 13:31

    Hey in couple of years the NCAA and NFL will be reporting zero concussions. Not that concussions aren’t happening just they will cease reporting them. Cantu will have nothing to say and even if he does his funding from either source will be cut-off.

    Problem solved and back to our regular programming.

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