The Big Mac Blog

They’re all lying about concussions

Star-Telegram sports columnist Mac Engel suffered this black eye during a pickup basketball game.
Star-Telegram sports columnist Mac Engel suffered this black eye during a pickup basketball game. Star-Telegram

In a pickup basketball game there are no concussion protocol tests, or trainers or doctors for that matter, just in case someone takes a nasty spill, or in this case an elbow to the eye.

Never has someone deserved a shot to the face as much as myself, which I absorbed the other day during a pickup basketball game. Despite the bleeding I continued to play in a truly meaningless game. After the game was finished, I put a band aid over the cut, and despite the swelling I continued to play.

It was only about two hours after I was done playing a headache set in that I addressed with Advil. The pain relievers did nothing, so I took two more. Those made no difference, either. The headache lasted for about 36 hours, at which point it hit me like that elbow - all of the sports leagues, and more specifically the players themselves, are in denial about concussions.

The hit I suffered wasn’t particularly fun, and it was not that bad. Like most collisions in sports, it was just sports - a big guy drove down the lane, and caught me with an elbow. Happens all the time on courts, fields and sheets of ice all over the world.

Was it a concussion? Possibly, but I doubt it.

I suffered a headache, was a little woozy when I played, so just how badly must the kids and grown men and women who play full contact sports be hurting when they return to the field, or the ice, or the court after a real collision?

A league can institute a concussion protocol test and implement other safety measures, and maybe even take away a helmet from a player to prevent him from going back in, but no one can stop the player in question from lying through their teeth.

I was bleeding and was woozy and absolutely no part of me wanted to stop playing in a basketball game that defined meaningless. Doctors, and don’t forget lawyers, cry foul at the NFL, NCAA, NHL, MLB, NBA and others sports leagues that all collectively function to create profits from games that potentially put their clients’ health at risk but there is a larger factor at play here:

The players do not want to stop playing because playing is fun. When a person enjoys themselves they put up with a lot to keep it going.

All of these sports leagues carry the burden and guilt of protecting their own interests over the well being of their employees, which we now know the people that play these games can endure a lifetime of pain and sadness.

At the higher levels of sports players will deliberately put themselves in harms way because they do not want to lose their spot, and they do not want to threaten their income.

At the lowest levels of sports, such as a noon basketball game, no one is forcing a player “to get back out there” despite a broken nose, or a headache they can’t shake.