Pro Players Speak Out About The ‘Absurdity’ Of The Concussion Protocol In Women’s Soccer
Written By: Rachel Breton, SkyBlue FC, #22
In September last year, the NFL launched a new protocol surrounding concussions. The initiative, known as “Play Smart. Play Safe,” now specifies that whenever a player is suspected to have incurred a possible concussion, he must be removed immediately from the field and analyzed by a team physician, as well as an unaffiliated neurotrauma doctor. If either doctor thinks the player may have a concussion, he will be taken to the locker room for a full medical assessment and not be allowed to play the rest of the game if that suspicion is confirmed. If the diagnosis is negative, the player will still be monitored closely for any possible symptoms throughout the rest of the game.
The new protocol also mandates that the NFL must provide two medical spotters who watch games through binoculars and with video replay in order to identify possible concussions. Last year, in part because of the new protocol, the number of concussions in the league fell by 11.3 percent from 2015.
Why bring up the NFL in women’s sports?
The National Women’s Soccer League’s (NWSL) concussion protocol, unlike that adopted by the NFL, relies on a different premise: Players must report if and when they have a possible concussion. The problem with this premise: I can speak from experience that almost no player will report a possible concussion because they want to keep playing. In addition, soccer coaches and trainers often advise players not to report concussion symptoms so they can continue to be used in match play.
In December 2015, U.S. Soccer prohibited heading in youth programs until age 11 after the NCAA reported that concussions are the second most common injury among female collegiate soccer players, affecting 9.2 percent of those who play. (The most common injuries are contusions, or bruises).
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Hometown: Manalapan, New Jersey
Team: Sky Blue FC
College: Villanova/Rutgers University
Quote: "The tasks ahead of us are daunting. I cannot stop world hunger, cure cancer, and right all the wrongs by myself, but I do believe in the power of one. I take my itsy bitsy “power of one” very seriously. If we each and all decided to realize our best potential, and are committed to helping others compassionately, can you imagine what we could accomplish? So I will never point the finger asking others what they’re doing to change the world; I must do what I ought to do. I aim to constantly make the world a better place, bringing people back to their roots, pushing them to excel, and be the best version of themselves, and it all starts with me being who I ought to be."