Concussion safety is of the upmost importance here at Your Best 11, and in light of the climate surrounding head injuries in recent years, it's a damn good cause to have.
Last week, we talked about using impact-monitoring sensors to help medical staffs identify impacts that could trigger concussions. This week, with the status of yet another major college football player hanging in limbo due to a concussion concern, we hit on another key safety measure.
That measure is a mandatory sit-out. Some schools operate on a mandatory sit-out, while others are more day-to-day in an effort to get them on the field. By mandatory sit-out, I mean holding kids out of full contact for seven-to-10 days to ensure that they are symptom-free and out of the dangerous window for second-impact syndrome.
Will a mandate of seven-to-10 days out be a cure-all? Absolutely not. The symptoms from a concussions can certainly linger more than 10 days. However, it would give players a period to work towards being 100 percent without the pressure of trying to return and help their teams.
The rule would be most effective on the more common concussions—the minor bell-ringers that impact the sport most frequently. When players sustain minor concussions, they don't need to run back out for full practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. Likewise, they don't need to be put thrown into the fire on Saturday to run the risk of getting drilled again and compounding the injury.
The same can be said for moderate concussions whose symptoms come and go with everyday activities. Headaches can disappear and reappear without warning, putting players in harms way if they were to pop up during practice or leading up to game day.
With the imposition of a mandatory sit-out period, there will be fewer players at risk. Trainers would be operating on the "better safe than sorry" principle, taking the decision out of the hands of players itching to get back on the field.
Take this burden off the players' shoulders. Take lies like "feeling alright" and "I can go" out of the discussion. Let coaches sit their players down and let him know they're parked for the next week to week and a half. Let them relax and recover instead of put their long-term health on the line.
Unlike a rolled ankle or a sprained joint, the brain isn't something that has a true healing timetable. There is no slush bucket, icing boot or stim treatment that can help speed up the recovery process. Brain injuries can only go away on their own.
The best way to let that happen is to remove the possibility of participating. In some cases, players might feel fine in four or five days, but even then, being parked as a precautionary measure can't hurt. If college football wants to take issue with concussion safety, a mandatory sit-out is one protocol they need to put into action immediately.