There’s an interesting article in the New York Times today about concussions and high school athletes. Concussion and high school sports, especially girls’ soccer and basketball, have long fascinated me as a subject for fiction and nonfiction for teens. Girl’s soccer is second only to football in total concussion incidents nationwide. Briefly, I’m interested in the unique pressure that comes from wanting to look tough playing sports that aren’t considered “tough” by the mainstream. The New York Times’s Alan Schwarz has done good reporting on this before on youth soccer and football.
The new NY Times piece is really fascinating because it raises the tension between medical best practice and incentivizing nondisclosure of concussion. An international panel of neurologists has recommended that young athletes suspected of sustaining concussion should not be cleared to return to play the same day under any circumstances (previously, they could return if cleared by a trainer or doc). Another group of concerned docs and trainers raises this counterpoint:
[Doctors], many of whom work the sidelines of high school athletic events, said they feared the effects of such strictness. They predicted that athletes would respond by hiding their injuries from coaches and trainers even more than they are already known to do, leaving them at risk for a second and more dangerous concussion.
Obviously, this is complicated. I can believe that though most teens are perfectly capable of making the correct choice between staying on the sidelines and going back in with a possible concussion under calm circumstances, many will make a different choice in the amped-up intensity of the game.
I think there’s a lot to say on this subject that teens would be interested to hear, both from experts and their peers.