Concussion and Football – What’s the big deal?

Posted by Marilyn Lash, M.S.W. on 13th Nov 2010

Last Sunday evening, my husband and I were watching the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts football game on television – he with lots of quarterbacking from the couch and me with simmering patience as I waited for 60 Minutes to come on. But the game got my attention when the loud crack of a violent tackle resulted in a player lying unmoving on the field for close to 10 minutes. The expressions on the players and spectators showed the fears and questions about just how badly the player was hurt. He simply did not move as trainers and athletic staff hovered over him.

After finally being carried off the field immobilized on a backboard, the professional commentator came on 15 minutes later to announce with great relief, “Good news, It’s only a concussion.” To make matters even worse, 10 minutes later another announcer repeated, “It’s only a concussion” only to be followed by a third commentator saying, “It’s just a concussion.”

Those of us who work in the field of brain injury know that a concussion is a mild brain injury. It disrupts the functioning of the brain. As the Brain Injury Association of America says, “It’s more than just a bump on the head.” This minimization of concussion by professional sports commentators misrepresents the significance of a concussion – and its potential damage. Furthermore, it sends a message to literally millions of viewers that a concussion is no big deal. I am certain that no announcer would dream of saying, “It’s only a brain injury” or “It’s just a brain injury.”

If you want to learn more about concussion in football, Sports Legacy Institute’s founder, Chris Nowinski, author of Head Games has been in the forefront of research following the effects of multiple concussions on players in sports.