Conscious of Concussions





  For athletes, concussions can be a serious headache – no pun intended. No matter the type of sport, whether it be soccer, basketball, or volleyball, players suffer through various injuries; among the most dangerous are concussions. A player can get a concussion by receiving a hard blow to the head, like getting hit by a ball or by bumping into another player. It’s easy to understand why concussions are so common when 200 pounds of muscle collide with another 200 pounds of muscle. According to Pinewood athletic trainer Theresa Maksim, at least five or six Pinewood athletes have gotten concussions since the beginning of the school year, most of them being football players, although players in other sports are not exempt.

   The trend is not only seen at Pinewood. The number of concussions in contact sports has been increasing, raising a big question: is football worth the injuries and the concussions? Maksim thinks it is.

   “Not everyone is getting injured, and for the players that are, we’re recognizing the injuries early so that they don’t become prolonged injuries,” Maksim said. “And, in the last three to four weeks, we have had zero [injuries].”

   Tony Schwartz, a New York Times journalist, slightly disagrees.

   “As beautiful as it may to watch at times, football is first and foremost a violent profession,” Schwartz writes in his article, The NFL as a Toxic Workplace. “Is training young men for violence, and then cheering them on, truly ‘America’s game’?”

   Indeed, fans pay money to watch football players wrestle one another to get possession of a 11-inch ball, not considering the arduous physical test they are undergoing every single day. As a matter of fact, fans lament a player’s injury not out of sympathy for the physical pain he may be enduring, but out of shame that the player is no use to the team or to the fans’ fantasy football league.

  Schwartz nicely summarizes this phenomenon, saying, “players suffer, in short, for our entertainment.”

   Despite this argument, fans are not going to stop watching football simply because of the high risks of injuries. Thus, to make football a more enjoyable and safe sport, we need to come up with a way to minimize said injuries; it is quite obvious now that helmets do not completely prevent concussions.

   “We’re really focusing on tackling techniques and making sure that [the players] are doing everything in their power to be as safe as possible,” Maksim said.

   Teaching the athletes a way to tackle without hurting their heads can dramatically decrease the number of traumatic brain injuries in a season.

   “Sometimes injuries can’t be prevented, like falling on the basketball court and hitting your head, but sometimes they can be prevented,” senior football player Jack Sweat said. “For example, in football, you can try to not hit with your head, and be more cautious about how you go about tackling your opponents.”

   While the changes seem to be working, it is imperative that we should play contact sports carefully. After all, no play is worth a concussion.