Friday, September 6, 2013

Some column reaction . . .

The Frontline documentary League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis was to have been shown by PBS in two parts. Instead, it will be shown on Oct. 8.
The trailer for the documentary is available right here.
There has been some reaction to the brain injury-related column I wrote last week.
Mr. Drinnan,
I read lots. But I don't usually respond to much. However, I read your article on the WHL concussions and wanted to add my two cents.
I can relate to the father, in a very small way. I have a 17-year-old son who is finally returning to normal after roughly a year and a half of post-concussion. Not to the same degree, mind you. But there was depression, memory loss and lots of headaches. His main sport was rugby. He was a good player and participated in provincials, was usually captain and enjoyed a trip to Ireland. He was also instrumental in restarting the rugby program at his high school.
He loved the sport. After a year he has finally realized that he won't play again. Too much risk. He also won't get to take part in the senior year for the program he helped start. He still isn't over it. People say to him that "at least you got to do lots and play at a high level." His response was bluntly that he had to quit at 17 years old. How was that fair?
I miss watching him play.
The difference is that his hits were mostly dumb bad luck.
Hockey can do so much more. That makes me mad. So many lives affected. Why is the hitting not taken more seriously? It used to be you hit to separate the player from the puck. Now it's to destroy.
Why are you still allowed to wear hard-shelled pads? Why do people not understand that helmets do NOT prevent concussions?
The stupid arguments I hear most are that the players assume the risk and there will be no hitting left. Crap. Hitting will not leave. Players will adjust. And the league sets the rules and standards. They should assume the risks.
The game has to change. I just wish the NHL would grow some and do what's right for the players (trickle down effect).
The game and the players would all be better for it.
Hello Gregg,
First let me compliment you on your article. You set the mood so perfectly for the reader to get a glimpse into the precarious place these parents find themselves.
Quickly, I will let you know that I am the parent of a former hockey player. He experienced some of the symptoms you described in your story but he and we are very lucky. He never played without first recovering from a concussion. And, after three, we helped him to make the decision to be done. Fortunately, it appears he will have no long-term affects.
I still receive emails from his old team for some reason. I received one this morning and started feeling a little sorry for him and myself that I no longer get to see him play. In the back of my mind I was thinking, "Oh, wouldn't it be fun to see him play his senior season . . ."
Your article was a great reminder of why he no longer plays. He is just too susceptible to concussions. That's it. I look forward to him becoming something else that is amazing. I hope he gets to play in an adult league some day without worrying about head injuries.
Anyway, just wanted to say nice job and thanks for the article. Give my best to the family in your article. I pray for their son's recovery.
The following appeared in the Kamloops Daily News as a letter to the editor. It was written by Jon Heshka, Associate Dean, at the Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law:
I would like to commend Gregg Drinnan for his excellent ongoing coverage of hockey concussions in general and his Aug. 27 article ('It wasn't supposed to turn out like this') in particular.
Former WHL player Dean McAmmond's quote was bang on: "People say I have got concussion problems, but I don't have concussion problems. I have a problem with people giving me traumatic blows to the head, that's what I have a problem with."
Drinnan slightly missed the mark, however, suggesting the problem is young men with a sense of invincibility who don't understand the consequences of their actions.
In my view, the problem is less that than it is the men in suits who run the leagues, own the teams and coach the players who downplay the concussion crisis and who are failing to do enough about it.
How is it that WHL players suffer more brain injuries than NHL players?
Admittedly there have been signs of progress. The WHL introduced its Seven Point Plan which has resulted in fewer concussions. I hope and would encourage the stewards of the game — the owners, general managers, coaches and officials — to do even more, not only in safeguarding the health of the players but in protecting the integrity of the game itself.

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