Are You There, Shaq? It’s me, John.
The (increasingly zany) Concussions Epidemic
For the bored vacationing sports fan, a retrospective look at “the year that was” is as easy as turning on the television.
With visions of the year 2011 dancing in their heads, most sports pundits agree that concussions, and their increasing role in the daily lives of athletes, is not only the story of the year—it’s increasingly becoming the story of the young decade.
Some will say the story begins and ends with Sidney Crosby. Need I even remind you of the hundreds of locker room interviews? All from the same angle, always the same question, always the same answer. It’s day to day, he’ll play it by ear. Crosby will play the start of the season. Crosby will miss five games in December. Ten games. Twenty games.
Never before has the best athlete at his respective sport succumbed to an injury so ruthlessly unique to that player.
But to say that Crosby is the entire story is a gross understatement. That would underplay the increasingly zany marriage between professional sports and concussions.
During this past holiday break, former Miami Dolphins football players pursued suing the league for concussion-like injuries suffered during their playing days. They have a hard time remembering them, but they’re pretty sure they know why.
At the same time, current NFL players admit that they would rather hide a concussion than be subject to the strict guidelines placed by the league to ensure safety. As Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew so bluntly put it, not being able to walk and losing memory later in life is just part of pursuing football as a career choice.
So now we have athletes on both sides. There are those who suffer the injuries and hope to avoid them, and those who are aware of the risk but would rather compete and sacrifice their future. Blame it on those in their reckless twenties, but if the Crosby case has shown anything, nobody is safe from these dangerous head injuries.
Try and tell me watching sports isn’t different now. We grimace a little more when a hockey player gets boarded head first, or when football players collide helmet-to-helmet. Hell, even basketball players take an elbow to the head once in a while.
How this will be dealt with now is anybody’s guess. Making the rules more stringent has made the players push back. And for what? Another two weeks of playing a game?
One only needs to look at the increasingly frustrated Sidney Crosby to know the dangers of this injury.
As we start a new year, this isn’t just the story of 2011, it’s starting to look like the story of the sports world for many years to come.