Pro athletes (and league commissioners) ARE role models

It is encouraging to see the recent burst of attention given to the issue of concussions in football. Somewhat like with steroids, it was an issue brushed aside at the highest level – the pro ranks – and because of that, brushed aside at lower levels of competition.

As the tide has turned regarding both issues, the stewards of the sports have begun to create policies that will not only have an impact on their most direct stakeholders – current players – but indirect stakeholders as well – the millions of young people who play football and baseball.

As the following article by Alan Schwarz at the New York Times highlights, it may take some time before college and high school players and coaches buy in to the policies being promoted by the NFL. However, based on the host of on-the-field practices that have trickled down to these groups, we are confident these actions at the pro level addressing this very serious issue will have an impact on those players and coaches.

You can find the full article at, with an excerpt below.

New N.F.L. Culture May Filter Down Slowly

By ALAN SCHWARZ, December 3, 2009

TUSTIN, Calif. — For years, as the National Football League steadfastly defended its policy of letting some players return to the field after concussions, independent medical experts warned that the league’s policy influenced the college and youth levels, which often take their cues from the professional ranks.

So when the N.F.L. reversed course Wednesday and said that players who show anything more than the most fleeting and minor concussion symptoms must come off the field for the day, it seemed likely that high schools would take notice.

Or not. If the attitudes of several Tustin High School players in Southern California are any indication, the culture the N.F.L. helped build will not be reformed overnight.

Sitting outside their locker room Thursday, linebacker-fullback Wade Minshew and defensive end Kuresa Moaliitele both said they would not tell anyone if they sustained a concussion during Friday’s big state playoff game.

They heard about the N.F.L.’s new rule. They have watched stars like Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner and Brian Westbrook struggle with concussions in recent weeks, and have been taught by their athletic trainers that playing through a concussion, when you are a teenager, can be highly dangerous and even deadly.

“It’s our mentality toward football — you put the team first,” Minshew said. Moaliitele added: “I’d keep playing. It’s the dedication I have to the team.”

Just then their coach, Myron Miller, walked in. Informed of his players’ comments, he calmly explained that he would do the same if he was 16.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Miller said. “They shouldn’t do it, I’ve told them not to do it, but it takes a lot of maturity to put your health ahead of the team. If I was playing in the game tomorrow night and got a concussion, I don’t think I’d tell anyone either. I’m not a hypocrite.”

The Tustin players’ candor indicates that the N.F.L.’s new commitment to better concussion management will take some time to filter down to lower levels of the sport.

(The article continues at