Roy’s Ramble, October 25, 2019

Some really interesting issues coming up this week:

  • Brett Concussion—While I have done a lot of concussion related work with youth sports organizations and high schools over the last decade, this was my first experience with one my kids having a concussion in that time frame.  Brett and a teammate collided in a flag football game as they tried to stop the opposition from getting into the end zone.  Taking a knee in the head is likely to cause a concussion (or other injury).  I commend Stevenson High School and the athletic trainer on staff for taking immediate action and giving him a comprehensive sideline assessment.   Even though the concussion was fairly apparent, it is always a good idea to go through the entire test to try to identify where some functional deficit may have appeared.  One of the most challenging aspects (as always), is getting the athlete to sit out.  After about 36 to 48 hours, Brett was feeling pretty good and was very frustrated that he was not allowed to participate in sports this past week.  This highlights the challenges that occur with young athletes who feel fine but may not recognize that areas in which their brain is not performing properly.  It is a reminder to every level of sports organization, that the sideline assessment and the initial medical assessment are merely the BEGINNING of the process.  Even his physician failed to give him the proper information about a return-to-play protocol.  The physician told him that he would be allowed to return-to-play if he had no symptoms over the course of this week.  Unfortunately, that is not the accurate standard (though it could be correct in some instances).  The proper way to assess whether an athlete is ready to return to play according to the CDC is the following:
    • 1.            No apparent symptoms
    • 2.            Return to normal baseline test (which is difficult when most organizations do not do baseline testing proper—or at all)
    • 3.            5 day, Return to Play Protocol
      • Day 1: Light aerobic activity
      • Day 2: Moderate activity
      • Day 3: Heavy, non-contact activity
      • Day 4: Practice and full contact
      • Day 5: Competition
  • Playing One Sport Year Round—The National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) put out a statement this past week highlighting the problems with playing one sports.  These problems include the higher frequency of burnout and mental anguish, but also, some very real physical problems that can occur when an athlete plays one sport year round.  The ongoing stress and pressure on the same muscles, joints and ligaments creates a long term problem for many young athletes.  Among NATA’s recommendations are:
    • Delaying specializing in a single sport for as long as possible
    • One team at a time
    • Less than eight months per year for a single sport
    • No more hours per week than the age in years
    • Two days of rest per week
    • Rest and recovery time from organized sport participation
  • Astros fire Taubman. The only surprise is that it took so long. After the initial comments from Brandon Taubman surfaced, the Astros claimed to do an investigation and then stood behind him. The Astros failed to recognize that the references to domestic violence were shouted in the face of female reporters. Despite the strong calls for immediate action by many female members of the media, the Astros went all-in on defending Taubman. Unfortunately for them, you can’t sweep things under the rug during the world series. The true comments came out and the Astros were left with little choice. What makes it even more interesting is that it is unlikely that the Astros would have fired Taubman had they come out and punished him or suspended him at the outset and many wonder whether this scrutiny would have been different during the regular season. MLB is now weighing a suspension as well.
  • ORT—I was fortunate to be invited as a guest to the ORT Leadership luncheon at the Standard Club in downtown Chicago.  With over 120 people in attendance, the event highlighted the work of honoree Katy Lynch, the Founder of CodeverseCodeverse is doing impressive work in the community and helping teach young kids to code and enjoy the skills that are needed to excel in our increasingly STEM world.  You should check out their website at
  • Northwestern Football—This is Northwestern’s Homecoming weekend and so the Northwestern Gridiron Network held its annual luncheon at the Norris Center along the lake.  Over 300 people gathered to hear AD Jim Phillips, Coach Pat Fitzgerald, President Morton Schapiro and some of the current players expressive their love for the university.  Fitz always has some great one-liners though he declined to share any of his Iowa material in advance of the game. 
  • Dental work—Unfortunately, had to have some dental work done this week and as I sat in the chair, I marveled at the advancements of the technology.  It used to hurt far more to just have a filling than it does now to have a tooth removed.  In fact, the most painful part was the injection for the local anesthetic and the most uncomfortable part was the little brace that was placed in my mouth to keep it open.  Truly incredible.
  • BE ON GUARD—When you look at every level of sport, one of the main attractions of fandom is the uncertainty of what is going to transpire.  We never know whether our team will perform well, perform poorly or manage to win the game.  Even when we think we know, we don’t.  That is one of the reasons that sports remains one of the last bastions of valuable TV content, because live sports continues to be a huge draw.  Nothing illustrates this better than the Wisconsin-Illinois game last week where despite dominating time of possession and the statistical battle, the Badgers made crucial mistake at crucial times and managed to put a damper on their big match-up with Ohio State.  In sports, you need to be ready to go every single time you step on the field (or court, course or other competition area).



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