Concussion Discussion: Sport has moved on too much not to protect everyone

It’s not just the NFL that has a problem with the issue…


Prior to the turn of the century, sport was a far more distant thing than it’s allowed to be now. Social media and the constant, sometimes excessive coverage has brought us closer to it – not always in a positive way.

Over-analysis can be counterproductive, but the medical research gone into contact sport has produced some harrowing yet necessary results.

While sport has been bloated to larger-than-life levels, we must remain grounded and understand that it isn’t. You’re allowed to get lost in your sporting teams’ trials and tribulations, but it’s always worth remembering that these brands comprise of human life.

Anyone can suffer a concussion – the injury isn’t limited to those who make their living between white stripes. They do, however, receive more exposure to the possibility than most. What is important when analysing the discussion of them is context.

Given their complex nature and the fact studies have only really uncovered the full extent of the dangers in recent years, it’s a fresh topic. Not everyone was aware of them, even if they suffered from them themselves.

That’s not an excuse – people should read up on them and fully respect the danger they pose, but by and large – it’s a difficult concept and misinformation can be harmful given the subject matter.

Respective associations across all codes should be mandated to take the highest level of precaution and set minimum standards for in-game protection.

The NFL has seen the most publicity for its concussion history.

It’s not a major shock, given the aggressive nature of the game. For all the clichéd nonsense about pads protecting them from harm, it’s blatantly obvious that more could be done. The rules should be changing that – one step at a time.

There’s a school of thought that suggests overprotection dilutes the exciting element of sport. That’s a detestable stance to take and the case of Junior Seau has always stood out as an early indication of the damage a prolonged career in a physical sport can have on the human mind.

In May 2012, Seau shot himself at his California residence. After research on his brain from the NIH, it became clear that he suffered from CTE – a concussion-related disorder brought on through repetitive injuries to the head.

Pace picked up after this point and brain injury has been at the forefront of sport-related medical studies since.

It’s not excessive. It’s not mundane. It’s exceptionally serious and hard to gauge.

The way to combat it is through knowledge. Through that understanding should come in-roads into how best to avoid these occurrences or at least limit them greatly.

While it’s true that a career in sport comes with its risks, it doesn’t mean the responsibility of those who sanction the sports to protect the participants should be lessened.

Kevin Doyle recently retired on medical advice due to concussion concerns. He should be commended for being able to contextualise the risks in the face of a career that demands not only physical commitment, but mental awareness.

He showed plenty of the latter. Even after forging a career by winning aerial duels, that decision was the best use of his head to date.

Happy retirement, Kevin – and thank you.

What do you think?