The student news site of Los Medanos College


The student news site of Los Medanos College


The student news site of Los Medanos College


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The Experience welcomes Letters to the Editor and Guest Columns. All members of the LMC community — students, faculty and staff — are encouraged to write.

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Risk verses reward in football

Concussions are becoming more prevalent in sports. The problem is they are not easy to spot and can be a potential problem for both players and coaches to identify — since only 10 percent of them involve loss of consciousness even being knocked out is not a fool proof indicator.

My biggest concern is the health of the players, many of whom may think they just have a headache, or are simply afraid to tell their coaches. A concussion that goes unnoticed can cause changes in emotions, sleep and eating habits — in extreme cases even cause death.

Concussions are a serious injury, yet players are often reluctant to admit to their coaches they are hurt because they want to stay in the game. On top of that, I’ve personally heard coaches say “walk it off” or “just rub some dirt on it.” What message does this send about the seriousness of this injury? Is a single game really so important that athletes should risk their physical and mental health to play?

Some coaches will put in their best player even when there are signs of injury. Why you ask? Humans have a competitive nature and will often go to great lengths to win.

Just recently San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith suffered a concussion and told Coach Jim Harbaugh he was suffering blurry vision. So like the good coach Harbaugh is, he sat Smith for the remainder of the game and put in back up QB Collin Kaepernick. Concussions can take weeks to heal, so naturally Smith sat out the next game and Kaepernick started the next game to give Smith time to heal.

This is when things got interesting. Kaepernick had an amazing game against the Chicago Bear’s defense, which at the time was ranked number one in the NFL. The following week the 49ers took on the New Orleans Saints and Harbaugh was left with the question: Do I start a healthy Smith or go with the hot-handed Kaepernick?Ultimately he started Kaepernick who has started every week since Smith’s concussion.

Now Smith, a seven-year NFL veteran, watches as second-year Kaepernick takes over. Not only has Smith lost his starting job, but it could cause him to lose out on bigger offers from NFL teams in the offseason which translates into less money.

While fans may see this as a minor issue and many may think “so what, it’s pro sports, get over it,” there is a much bigger picture behind this QB controversy.

Athletes who go down due to injury should be confident that their starting jobs are still there when they get healthy. This high-profile incident may prompt other athletes to keep quiet about their injuries and symptoms for fear of losing their starting position. I bet Alex Smith will never complain about blurred vision again.

And what does this say about our own health? It implies that winning a game, completing a task while injured or having a starting job is more important than long-term physical wellbeing. Harbaugh’s decision can affect athletes on all levels, from children’s sports to college teams.

Typically players who love their sport, especially at the highest level, will do anything to stay on the field. Now after Harbaugh’s decision to bench Smith they may be even less likely to say anything, risking further injury and perhaps permanent damage to their bodies.

Many sports, especially football, are already dangerous enough and players run the risk of injury every time they step on the field. They shouldn’t have to fear a loss of their job because they tell their coaches they are hurt.

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