Wayne Bennett gave a really good interview to News Limited overnight in which he covered a few topics, including the concussion debate.
Bennett’s feelings were that, like with most issues in the game, there is a certain level of out of control hysteria surrounding the concussion debate. Much of this hysteria is fueled by the uninformed, and as Bennett pointed out, the experts in the field of brain injuries from concussion have yet to form a rock solid conclusion about Rugby League, so everyone else should wait to see what they come up with first before consigning Rugby League to the history books.
One thing that angers me is the attitude to doctors who are quick to be interviewed by the media about concussions, who throw out incredible quotes about the safety of playing the games…and yet who overlook one very important issue in this whole concussion debate.
They are part of the problem!
I don’t think you would find a single person within the game of Rugby League that takes concussion lightly. If a player suffers concussion I don’t think you will find anyone that demands “Get him back out there!” no matter what the cost to the players health is.
When ever a player suffers concussion, entire sport of Rugby League at every single level turns to doctors to assess a player. A player can only return to playing once they have been given the green light by a doctor.
What this means is, the concussion debate isn’t really about pressuring players to return to the playing field when they are not yet ready to. It is really about whether or not the doctors in Rugby League are giving the green light for players to return before they are actually ready to.
It is very convenient for doctors to point the finger at other officials in the game when the biggest question marks surround their own conduct. Heaven forbid that attention is turned towards doctors who are the ones putting players at risk by clearing them to play again after concussion before it is safe for them to do so.
We have heard time and time again from doctors that clubs have a duty of care to players who suffer concussion. That is 100% correct. That is why clubs employ doctors to make that call!
There is a lot of media talk at the moment about lawsuits from former players that have suffered from concussions that have affected them later in life. These former players will sue the game into oblivion according to some within the media.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if the focus of those lawsuits didn’t end at clubs, but the doctors at those clubs that allowed players to go out and play before they were really ready to?
I am not a doctor (Outside of a few eastern European countries anyway) but I have to say that I look at this whole concussion story and wonder how doctors themselves can so openly claim players are being put at physical risk when it is up to them to make the final call on whether or not a player can return after a concussion.
What is also amazing to me is that no one in the media is asking this question. In the blind pursuit of sensational headlines no one is asking these doctors how much responsibility they carry?
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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