75,000 people in the stands, cheering, praying your team is going to score on the next play. You just made the 1st down and the next play is certainly coming to you, the star wide receiver. This game is on you. You also know on the last play where you caught a 20-yard pass, the safety hit you hard and your vision is kind of blurry. You can see but there are these tiny white dots everywhere, and then they turn to black for a moment. There is so much on the line, and the team needs you in there. You’re feeling the pressure and don’t say anything about the ‘stars’ you’re seeing.
This is an all too familiar scenario in college football. Players feel an intense pressure that they are the vital piece to winning a game. To sit one play out, let alone the rest of the game, is unimaginable. Media today talks about how the NCAA needs to protect the student athletes and pull them out of the game when they display signs of concussion symptoms. That may be true, but many head injuries are still falling through the cracks because the players are not admitting in the moment when they are experiencing mild concussion symptoms that are not obvious to medical examiners and athletic trainers on the sidelines. These types of head injuries can be just as detrimental to a person’s health as a traumatic brain injury where a player is knocked unconscious and displays unmistakable signs of a concussion.
Players are given educational materials at the start of the season, but it’s questionable if they are really reading and comprehending the material, or merely signing papers in order to play football. Jon Solomon, a National College Football Journalist stated, “Many athletic trainers of schools in the study said athletes may be getting bombarded with so much concussion information that retention is low. Also, the study found some schools provided the education materials on the same form that players had to sign and return to the school.” If this is true then where does the blame lay when players are intentionally not reporting concussions? The NCAA can only do so much to educate and protect the players; ultimately it is going to be up to the player to take responsibility for their own well being.
But when there are less than two minutes left in the game, you’re down by 6 points, and it’s first down on the 50-yard line, what would you do? Sit the play out, or do what you’ve been conditioned to do your entire life: get in there and fight for the win?