Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Dec. 21, 2020 — An increasingly louder conversation

In the last few weeks, there has been more and more airtime on Sky Sports, a British 24-hour channel, devoted to the long-term effects of head injuries in sport.

Sky has been focusing on the recent deaths of 1966 World Cup soccer winners Jack Charlton and Nobby Stiles, as well as the possible legal action on the part of 70 former rugby players who could be party to a class-action lawsuit against the Rugby Football Union, the Welsh Rugby Union and World Rugby.

This is, of course, a half-decade after an enormous lawsuit, backed by 4,500 former college and professional football players, has been working its way through the courts.

Now, if you’ve been keeping an eye on pro sports recently in the United States, you’ll notice blue medical tents on the sideline of football games, and the words “concussion protocol” being omnipresent in any and all sports broadcasts.

I’m glad more and more societies worldwide are having conversations about closed-head injuries and how to prevent them. In so many countries, admitting possible symptoms of concussions is seen as a sign of weakness or a lack of commitment.

There is still a lot to do, especially in the way that sports are policed. I’m seeing a lot more physical contact at the higher levels of women’s lacrosse than I ever have. Going into the fan now often means getting crashed into by more than one defender, which isn’t supposed to happen.

And you’re also seeing more and more concussions in field hockey as goalies are getting hit in the helmet with 80-mph shots and forwards without protection are running into goalkeepers with shoulder and hip pads made of hard plastic.

Indeed, a number of players who I have seen in high school have had to either modify or end their field hockey careers because of repeated blows to the head. This includes at least two players who have represented the United States in international competition.

I think, especially for field hockey goalies, a concussion conversation is long overdue.

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