Concussion in elite sport is difficult, but even more so in grassroots community sport

The AFL introduced a 12-day rule last season, But Makdissi said this has led to an unhealthy public focus on time rather than fitness (others fear it could also backfire by causing players to return too soon).

Veteran reformer Peter Jess has long maintained that 12 days is by no means too short. Makdissi said 12 days was only the shortest period. “I would like to see the 12-day protocol for concussions removed from the discussion,” he said. “I think we should focus on the recovery phase.”

Earlier this month, Sydney's Paddy McCartin received the attention of a coach after suffering another concussion.

Earlier this month, Sydney’s Paddy McCartin received the attention of a coach after suffering another concussion.Credit: Getty Images

This is elite. In 2019-20, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported 246 Australian-mandated concussion incidents. “It’s probably just the tip of the iceberg,” Makdissi said, acknowledging that the 500,000 casual gamers are a stark contrast to the 800 full-time pros. “I think we’ve done a reasonable job at an elite level, [but] There’s no expertise at the lower levels of play, so that’s a bigger problem for us. “

In this regard, big-name governments are victims of their egos. They are used to presenting themselves as the government of their movement, but at best they are guardians. Because they don’t fund subsidiaries anywhere close to the extent they do, they have little moral and financial clout.

Cricket Australia is even more forthright in this regard than the AFL. Chief Medical Officer Dr John Orchard said it had no authority to regulate junior clubs and competitions. All it can do is simulate best practices. “Elite sets the standard for the community,” he said. Fortunately for cricket, where the average player is hit on the head once every three seasons, unlike football, helmets do work.

The AFL and Latrobe University teamed up to mine data from the Yarra Valley Youth Rugby League – the largest youth league – but otherwise, authorities relied on voluntary surveys and ad hoc anecdotes. Insight into the subelite concussion landscape remains murky.

Former AFL players Shaun Smith, Darren Jarman, the late Shane Tuck, John Platten and John Barnes have all filed class action lawsuits against the league.

Former AFL players Shaun Smith, Darren Jarman, the late Shane Tuck, John Platten and John Barnes have all filed class action lawsuits against the league.

The remedy for the afflicted is fortunate. The courts will help some people, and AFLPA will help others. As reported here last week, one club is urging players to take out personal injury insurance. Workcover only covers jockeys, but could expand that coverage, or create another no-fault accident compensation scheme.

Usually, New Zealand is way ahead of us. Their government-run accident compensation company was investigated as a prototype. “They have better data and better funding than we do,” Orchard said. “Sport and exercise medicine as a medical profession is very underfunded in Australia, so it’s difficult for us to deliver at a community level.”

Joey Didulica in 2019.

Joey Didulica in 2019.Credit: Jason South

Preventive or at least mitigating measures are on the table. These include more research – and more funding – on rule changes, particularly in underage football, and an app so that, to the extent junior clubs collect data, it can be centralized in one registry .

Curtin University is developing a program for all sports. Most clubs use an app anyway to report scores, and they can be adjusted. Jesse has proposed a concussion passport similar to a drug passport in some sports.

Education emphasizes and overrides everything. AFLPA legal eagle Megan Comerford suspects sporadic minutes here and there aren’t enough for AFL players. At lower levels, needs are more pressing. Pierce meets a woman at a suburban club who doesn’t realize she has a concussion.

A further, bolder step would be to completely remove the assumed responsibility of sporting bodies for this issue, as goodwill will always be compromised to some degree by commercial demands and brand protection.

AFLPA's Paul Marsh.

AFLPA’s Paul Marsh.Credit: Jason South

To this end, one recommendation is to treat concussion as Sports Integrity Australia is a joint body responsible for policing drugs in sport, match-fixing and child protection since 2020. But it is doubtful that SIA has the resources in its current form.

Another is not to think of concussions as a professional sports hazard, but as a full-blown public health problem.this is the location Annette Greenhow, Sports Law Scholar, Bond University For example, here’s what’s trending in the UK and Canada. Don’t forget that this is a Senate inquiry, at its core, to determine what role the government can or should play.

“You just can’t believe this very, very onerous and difficult obligation on the sporting bodies themselves because, frankly, they’ve shown absolutely no will to implement anything,” Griffin said. , hides a disturbing truth.

If nothing else, the Senate inquiry is putting a human face on hidden pain.On Wednesday, it heard harrowing accounts Anita Frawley, the widow of St Kilda Denny, Renee Tucker, the sister of the late Sean, and Joy Didulica, a former international goalkeeper with a nervous breakdown. But it also hears some dire stories from the dark side of suburbia. This pandemic does not discriminate.

Listening to them, I silently hoped that they would reach the ears of several other footballers too, some famous, some not, all of them suffering. They are stories that exercise everyone’s mind.

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