NCAA and Concussions

Subject: NCAA and Concussions
From: A Concerned Student Athlete
Date: 9 Dec 2015

Mr. Mark Emmert,

I am a current senior at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. I am about to enter my final season on the Allegheny Women’s Lacrosse Team this upcoming semester. My experience with this team has seen its ups and downs but they are my family and I wouldn’t trade my experience with this team for the world.

Only one thing has hindered me from having the truly amazing experience that every collegiate athlete should get—injuries, of which I have had my fair share; a separated shoulder, a broken hand, two stress fractures, and two very awful concussions. The first concussion I received was my freshman year in one of my first conference games against the College of Wooster; I was out for almost the rest of the season because of this concussion. And my second was during my sophomore year. These two concussions not only hindered my athletic experience but also my academic experience. I found myself not being able to study or focus for long periods of time, having symptoms of post concussion syndrome including mood swings, and most importantly I was not myself. Many of my teammates and friends who have also received concussions have been affected in a similar way.

The reason I am telling you all this is because I do not think that the NCAA is doing enough to protect the leaders of tomorrow. We work day in and day out to succeed and push ourselves not only athletically but academically as well, so that in the very near future we can be successful and help better our world. Those of us athletes have heard the stories about the severe consequences of concussions—Frank Gifford, Bret Lindros, Tony Dorsett, Ryan Freel, and Terry Long. These are just some of the professionals who have been affected by CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease said to be caused by repeated head trauma. Two girls from my team within the last year have had to step away from lacrosse because of head injuries they have received—both of whom wanted to go into medical fields and no longer are sure that is the right path for them. Obviously there is problem here.

What I propose the NCAA do in order to combat this problem of severe traumatic brain injuries occurring with these young athletes is a mandatory Concussion Workshop. Attendance will be required by all incoming freshman athletes to attend this workshop. This workshop would include first hand accounts of athletes who have been affected by concussions, training sessions on how to assess an athlete when there is a possibility of a concussion, and sessions about how to treat a concussion and its symptoms. I believe that a workshop or day dedicated to an athlete’s health would drastically impact the stigma behind concussions and ensure that more student athletes watch out for their own health as well as their teammates. We must do more to ensure the safety of our fellow student athletes and our future.

I hope this letter finds you well and that you truly consider what I have had to say here. I believe a change needs to be made and soon. Thank you for your time.

A concerned student athlete