College football, a place where a school can remove a player from a team based on a history of concussions and (a) have coaches from several other schools begin recruiting the player for their programs and (b) face critical questioning from the player’s parents about the school not allowing further risk of head injuries to the player.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the strong guidance of the NCAA – you know, the people devoted to the well-being of the student-athlete.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association sets no limits on the number of permissible concussions. There’s no medical consensus on how many concussions pose an intolerable danger to athletes. And colleges, ever on the lookout for talent that will reap their teams wins and ticket sales, decide on their own when, or if, players should be medically disqualified.
In interviews with doctors and college officials, STAT found cases in which some players were permanently sidelined after three or four concussions, while others with as many as 10 concussions were allowed to still play…
There are about 70,000 college football players, and a 2014 report by the NCAA revealed that nearly 1 in 10 players reported suffering multiple concussions during their college career. Multiple concussions make athletes vulnerable to long-term brain damage from the head trauma.
The NCAA’s chief medical officer, Dr. Brian Hainline, said that in his own neurology practice, he has recommended that athletes stop playing, only to have them seek second or third opinions from doctors who disagree. “We are not at a place in society generally, and the NCAA in particular, to state that there is a universal bar that everyone must adhere to regarding ability to play,” he said.
Once college athletes are disqualified, they receive little guidance about what to do. Young men like the 19-year-old Long are left on their own to seek additional tests and evaluations by concussion experts — and to choose whether pursuing their dream of playing college football is worth jeopardizing their health.
“I was very confused,’’ Long said of the conflicting signals from Syracuse and other schools about whether he should play. “It all wasn’t making sense.’’
That’s exactly how a kid facing the potential threat of dementia should feel, right?