Concussions are all the rage these days, as an increased awareness of their dangers have also led to more reported cases than ever before.
When Louisville guard Elijah Justice was diagnosed with one, coach Rick Pitino made it clear he’s sick of protecting players from head injuries.
“It’s the 17th concussion we’ve had this year,” Pitino told a roomful of reporters. “I’ve been coaching now 35 years and I’ve seen five concussions in 35 years. Now the new thing is everybody has a concussion. If you walk out and slightly brush the door, you have a concussion. That’s the way it is today.”
Make no mistake, Pitino’s perspective is obvious. The enormous spike in concussions is clearly a result of greater awareness; and considering all the media play the issue has received, collegiate medical staffs have to proceed with extreme caution when dealing with even the slightest injury to the head. Are we being overly sensitive about concussions? It’s possible.
But by dismissing it as “the new thing” – as though concussions are a fad straight out of Vogue’s spring fashion issue – Pitino clearly isn’t being sensitive enough. Especially in the college game.
It’s one thing for professional athletes, who voluntarily take on the risks associated with their sport when they sign multi-million dollar contracts, to tough it out. But the overwhelming majority of amateur athletes will need all the brain power they can gather to succeed after graduation. There’s no assurance that things will be OK for them if a concussion proves to be serious. Without guaranteed millions they’re at greater risk, and without the legal protection of a compensatory contract, medical staffs are, too.
So Colleges have no choice but to take the issue seriously. And neither does Pitino.
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