Preston Plevretes will never forget 2005, because that was the year when the La Salle University’s second-year undergraduate linebacker suffered a serious head injury during a practice. Although he suffered from enduring symptoms caused by the blow to his head, he was given the all clear by the team’s medical personnel to participate in a match against Duquesne. During the match, the player was assailed by a clean unexpected block, which resulted in Plevretes suffering from a swelling of the brain. It has been nine years since the head injury but he still has problems in walking and speaking.
In addition to Plevretes’ case, other similar cases include the death of Derek Sheely of the Frostburg State in 2011. Death or long term physical disabilities are the price that young players pay because of the inaction of NCAA. In comparison to the slow response of NCAA, the NFL, on the other hand, has adopted hard hitting and compulsory rules on how to deal with head injuries. Even though the organization has declared that it is drafting tough rules on concussion safety, the manual published by NCAA this year tells us another story.
The 419 page long manual contains rules on all subjects ranging from promotional activities to recruiting, to autographs and training schedules but on the subject of concussions, it has assigned only a small section. According to the rule regarding concussion that was embraced in 2010, it states that a concussion requires medical assessments along with the mandate that any injured student athlete with a blow to the head is ruled out from athletic activity for the rest of the day. The new instructions on concussion treatment and safety were released by NCAA for the impending college football period.
According to the guidelines published by the sports body, one of the steps in dealing with concussion safety includes restrictions on practice activities that involve “live contact” in the form of blocking and tackling. The manual also talks about the kinds of doctors to consult, treatment of concussions as well as the return of a player to the field. Despite the changes, the new rules are mere guidelines that teams are free to follow according to their liking. The manual also does not contain information about consequences that teams will face in case of non-compliance.
Since college football generally involves high interest and a huge amount of money, many athletes prefer to return to the game despite suffering from any kind of physical injury. In contrast, the NFL has introduced strict rules. Accordingly, the sports body mandates that all teams must have neuro trauma specialists on the team in order to determine the occurrence of concussions during matches; imposition of penalties for certain kinds of hits and the promotion of shoulder tackles so that head tackles are reduced. Because of these changes, there was a 13% decline in concussion cases.
Even though the NCAA might find it hard to enforce the new guidelines on schools, the protection of the health of the players should continue to remain their top priority and they should try to introduce steps to cut down on head injuries.