This weekend’s top health and safety news involving football — and other sports:
* In the National Post’s year in review, the Canadian paper said one of 2012′s top stories was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s fight against concussions in the football.
It was Goodell who wore the stain of an extended and unnecessary lockout of the league’s officials, which only ended after the replacements made a series of potentially season-altering errors on the field. And it was Goodell who delivered heavy suspensions to the Saints players he deemed to be involved in the so-called
“Bountygate” scandal, only to have former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturn his decision in an appeal. His legacy, though, may well be shaped by how he dodges the lawsuits and guides the NFL through what many are now describing as a concussion crisis. Goodell has spoken about the possibility of removing kickoffs from the game — eliminating the carnage of 20 men slamming into each other at full speed — in order to make it safer. None of the changes on the table, though, would remove all of the risk.
* Speaking of Canada, the Toronto Globe and Mail ran a guest column by NHL Hall of Fame goalie Ken Dryden urging more research about concussions, especially for hockey players.
To help the tens of thousands of volunteer coaches and trainers without medical training make medically-difficult, competitively-difficult in-game decisions — does an injured player come out, or stay in? — the Zurich conference agreed to a clear, certain message: “When in doubt, sit them out.”
The problem is that players don’t want to sit out. Players want to play. So wrapped up in a game, they’re often the last ones to notice what others can see. The fog will go away after a hit to the head — they’re sure of it. They’ll be okay. They’re trained to see past obstacles, to ignore pain to the point where they often don’t feel pain at all, and to focus on what, to them, is truly important — the game, the season, the championship to be won. They need someone around them whose interest is only them. A trainer, or coach or parent may not be ideal, but could be the best they’ve got. If the player sits out the rest of the game, the player gains time to see what symptoms persist and develop, time to see a doctor; time until the next game, time to give everyone a better chance of being right.
* TheExaminer.com questioned if Ryan Freel’s suicide had anything to do with the concussions he suffered as a major league baseball player.
* The Willoughby News-Herald looked at the new rules go hand-in-hand with Ohio’s new concussion law.
* The Cypress Creek Mirror in suburban Houston wrote about how local doctors are teaching the public about the benefits of sports medicine.
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor