By: PFC Blogger Chase Fitzgerald
What would you say is the worst injury in sports? An ACL tear? A torn Achilles? Your tibia popping out of your leg? Well it’s not any of those. Those all heal. Even though the recovery may sometimes be up to a year or two, it eventually goes away. The worst injury in sports does not go away.
It always stays with you and that is why the worst injury in sports is concussions.
Along with being the worst, it is the most overlooked. Sometimes a player just sits out for a game or two and then returns to the field with most people forgetting it ever happened. You don’t see ESPN doing stories on the amazing play a player had coming off a concussion. It’s not a big deal to most people and that needs to change.
When I was 9 years old I fell and hit my head on the sidewalk which got me a gash on my head and my first concussion. I stopped doing physical activity for a week and then went on with my life like nothing happened because I didn’t think twice about it. For all I know, I felt the same as before. The first one is never the one that gets you. It’s like a warning sign to be more careful almost like a first strike. Skip to last year. I was 15 just coming off my freshman year and my first full organized basketball season. I was conditioning in the sand when I was back pedaling and didn’t see a tire right behind me. I fell in and hit my head against it.
It hurt a little and the rest of my teammates got a good laugh and we continued are workout. The next day I woke up with the worst headache I’ve ever had in my life and just didn’t feel right. Concussion and strike number 2. Since it was my second, I had to follow this 8 step program where I had to slowly get back to physical activity. I could only move onto each step when I didn’t have any symptoms (headaches, dizziness, etc.) for 24 hours. It took me about a month to finish the program.
After that, other than the occasionally headache or two, I was fine. I just became more sensitive when I hit my head. Every little bump felt like I got hit with a baseball bat. Now, about a month ago I was playing around on the court with my head and trying out some new crossover I saw Kyrie Irving do when we bumped heads. Hard.
It took me a second to regain myself and slowly walk over to the bench. My head was pounding and I couldn’t focus on anything. Concussion and strike number 3. I didn’t go to the doctor because I still had the sheet for how to handle a concussion and I didn’t want to waste the money to tell him what I already know. I also really wanted to start playing again which made me a lot more lenient about what constitutes as “having symptoms”. It still took me about 2 weeks to officially get back to playing but this time, I wasn’t alright.
I started having headaches all the time, sometimes having to stop doing my work in school and just sit there with my eye closed. I became ay more sensitive to light, and finding myself just not with it at times. It’s incredibly hard to focus on anything without getting a headache and I can tell I’m just not myself at times. I ended up not trying out for the basketball team this year where I possible could have received a starting spot not because I didn’t think it was “fun” anymore which was the excuse I told my family and friends, but because I was deathly afraid of getting another concussion. I’m barely able to handle the effects after my third and I can’t imagine what a fourth one would do. In 20 years, I would much rather be able to go about a day without an incredibly painful headache than be able to say I averaged 10 points on my varsity basketball team.
There are literally thousands more athletes that have had way worse problems with concussions than me and it has to become every leagues number 1 priority to at least limit the number of concussions. That’s why despite me not liking a lot of the rule changes going on in the NFL, I fully support them and applaud them for doing something about the crazy number of concussions that happen in football. To many players careers get derailed my concussions but even more get their lives derailed after sports because of them. Look at Sidney Crosby for instance. His career may actually come to a close soon because of his problems with concussions. I’m not the biggest Crosby fan in the world but you have to sympathize with him.
The kid was arguably the best hockey player in the world but thanks to concussions, he can’t even step on the ice. This is going to keep happening with athletes and we have to find a way to stop this.
The thing that makes me the angriest is the NCAA’s policy on concussions. If a student athlete receives a concussion while playing a college sport, the NCAA does not cover his medical costs of the lasting effects of the concussion after he graduates. There is no common sense in that rule and the NCAA has to change it. That player works his ass off without getting paid while making the NCAA billions of dollars. The least the NCAA could do is help pay his medical treatment from injuries that were caused from being on the field.
Concussions need to be taken much more serious and all sports leagues need to continue to help make their respective game safer. If even one doctor diagnoses a player with a concussion and a coach sends that player back on the field, if that coach isn’t immediately fired there is a serious problem. There is no point in risking that concussion to have permanent effects on that player for just a game.
So the next time you start to complain about a rule change in sports that makes the game safer, just imagine if that was your son playing. Would you want a 300 pound lineman make helmet to helmet contact with him? Didn’t think so.