PUMP THE BRAKES, Everyone!

I am a bit on edge this fine, foggy-impending-wintery-weather, day.  No, it’s not the great coffee I am drinking now and the nice jog I had clearly didn’t ease my current frustration.  This forthcoming “strongtake” may get my ass in hot water with some readers, but so be it.

People need to calm down, slow down, take a step back, reflect and realize some important things.  Before I go further understand that I have tried to be as “neutral” as possible – a simple athletic trainer that sees concussions on an intimate level from occurrence to recovery.  I have had 13 myself.  This post is something that apparently has boiled up from all the press clippings I have read and feedback I am getting.  Not one person, entity, sport, or profession is my target here; these are observations and opinions (in my most succinct way possible).

First of all, concussions are not a football problem, they are not a soccer problem, they are not a doctors problem, they are a societal problem.  Rightly so, football in America gets the mass attention, because it happens there more than any other sport out there (don’t waste my time with the skewed numbers of other sports and genders).  With that being said because of the higher incidence in football that does not mean the sport as a whole needs to be banished.  You know very well where I stand on this but I will spell it out for those new here.

Professional football is a different animal from the other forms of the sport, mainly because they are grown adults making informed decisions about their health.  And they get paid to do it, other than providing immediate safety for the concussed players and proper information about the injury, short and long-term, they can and should be able to make their own decisions.  However, this does not indemnify those players or the sanctioning bodies from having some casual responsibility for the emulation of the game at the lower levels.  A clear line must be drawn between amateur and professional medical care; for concussions and all other injuries.  Remember that the professionals have much greater medical care available to them, and if you think that is unfair well too bad, that’s life and where the money is.  Professional football holds a certain responsibility to inform its fans and future players of the risks and rewards of the sport.

As for the lower levels, with proper coaching and medical care/coverage I feel there is a place for this sport as we know it.  Unfortunately as we trickle down in age the participation numbers go way up and at the bottom, youth, is where we have the greatest disconnect from coaching and medical coverage/care.  Because of this and other factors I am of the ilk that kids should wait until the arbitrary age of 14 or freshman in high school to begin full collision football.  Believe it or not this has to do with more than just concussions, in my opinion.  And here is where my first beef is coming from.  Continue reading

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