Today’s health and safety news around the world of football:
*The Wall Street Journal interviewed players from the 1992 Alabama and 1988 Notre Dame national championship teams and asked them if football improved their lives.
Most of the interviewed players opposed the idea that current college football players should be paid — in large part because of the difficulty of figuring out what should be done for athletes in sports that don’t produce revenue. They also agreed, unanimously, that it’s impossible to put a value on a football scholarship. Derrick Oden, a linebacker on the 1992 Alabama team, went to high school in Tuscaloosa, the same town as the University of Alabama, where non-college-bound kids tend to wind up working at the nearby Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. or Mercedes-Benz plants. Oden, who says he likely wouldn’t have gone to college without football, now lives in Decatur, Ala., where he works in sales in the pharmaceutical industry. “A lot of guys my age look like they’re 15 or 20 years older than me,” Oden says. “I could have been stuck in here in Tuscaloosa and not seen what I’ve seen.” Even those who never played in the NFL estimated they had earned hundreds of thousands dollars more over the past two decades because of the degrees they earned on scholarship — and because of the discipline that football taught them.
They said one of the biggest attributes they learned was dependability.
“(Former Notre Dame coach) Lou Holtz liked to joke that being on time is 98% of the battle,” says Frank Stams, a linebacker on the Notre Dame team who is now a vice president of an insurance company. Busky, the teacher, says Alabama coach Gene Stallings helped him become a better student with this punishment: Football players who were caught missing class had to run early-morning sprints. “I was one of those guys who went to a lot of those 5:30 workouts,” Busky says.
* The latest high profile basketball player to enter the NBA’s concussion program is Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol, according to SI.com. Add that to Dwight Howard’s shoulder injury and Jordan Hill’s hip injury, and you have a very banged up high-profile NBA team, Yahoo!Sports reported.
* As the NHL returns from its lockout, Detroit Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves is still suffering from the concussion he sustained last season, according to FoxSports Detroit.
* Reuters reported that the U.S. government has begun a large study on sports-related concussions in youth athletics.
The Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies of Science, will probe sports-related concussions in young people from elementary school through early adulthood. The study will include military personnel and their dependants, and review concussions and risk factors.
At a time of increased concern over concussions at all levels of competition — from youth sports to professional leagues — the position statement “provides an evidence-based, best practices summary to assist physicians with the evaluation and management of sports concussion.” The statement was prepared by a task force of the AMSSM, a professional organization representing more than 2,100 nonsurgical sports medicine physicians.
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor