Saturday, July 4, 2015

Returning to competition: Who Should make the call?

When evaluating an athlete to determine if he or she is ready to return to competition, should we take into consideration what the athlete thinks?  What about the pressure that parents put on trainers and coaches to get their kids back into competition?  I personally think that we should let the trainers and doctors do their jobs, and make everybody else stay out of the way. With the pressure that the present day athletes are facing we should do everything in our power to assure that they are safe.
Most modern athletes are advised to be tough guys and girls. If they are injured and feel like they can play, then they should just play through it.  According to a survey conducted by Safe Kids Worldwide the study, which included 3,000 athletes, coaches, and parents, found that: 42 percent of kids said that they have downplayed or hidden injuries so that they could keep playing1.  Knowing these statistics, we should educate athletes on how playing with injuries can cause more damage to their body or could even be fatal.  With sports becoming more and more momentous to the future of young athletes, it is a necessity that we allow the team trainers and doctors to do their jobs and keep our kids safe.  
I have witnessed parents pressuring coaches to rush their children back into competition. According to, 53 percent of coaches said they have felt pressure to put injured players back in the game1.  Parents sometimes they have their children’s best interest at heart, but in reality are risking the safety of these young athletes. Just because a sportsperson has a legitimate shot at playing at the next level does not mean force them to suit up and play prematurely and risk further injury.  A scholarship is not worth causing further damage to an injury or even possibly ending their career.
This is why we should let the team doctors do whatever is necessary to evaluate injured athletes and make sure they return in a safe manner.  If the trainers do not believe that the player is ready to return to competition, we should respect that decision and leave it as the final say so. “It should be mandatory to have medical personnel at each game to attend to injuries and to make all medical decisions about re-entry to the game. While current economics may make this financially impossible, the National High School Coaches Association  suggests that youth programs seek out athletic trainers, EMTs, doctors, and nurses to volunteer their services.1"  One of the most difficult injuries to diagnose is a concussion.  With concussions, we should make sure we take the proper protocol before agreeing to let an athlete return to competition.  An good example of the dangers of a concussion is during the NBA Western Conference Finals, Klay Thompson a guard for the Golden State Warriors, was kneed in the side of his head and taken out of the game for safety precautions.  He successfully passed all of the concussion tests and was cleared to return in the beginning of the following quarter.  ”After the game, he felt so woozy that it required his father to drive him home.  He vomited a couple of times and was diagnosed with a concussion that night.2” During the game in which he was allowed return, if at some point he were to receive some type of impact to his head again it would have put him at risk for second impact syndrome, which could be fatal.  Thompson’s team was competing in the Western Conference Finals, so he wanted to return play as soon as possible and made the doctors feel his was ok.  Maybe  in the near future, we need to consider getting a more extensive concussion test just to make sure this isn’t frequently happening.  We need to make sure that we are not risking adding additional complications to our athletes’ injuries and more importantly jeopardizing their lives just for another win in our win column.

1Teens playing through pain, not taking sports injuries seriously (
2Warriors guard Klay Thompson officially has concussion (- San Jose Mercury News)


  1. Jerell, I agree with you! The safety of the athletes should be the coaches and trainer's responsibility and priority. Parents are always trying to stick their noses where they don't belong when it comes to return to play especially if it is their child. The coaches and athletic trainer's are the ones that get paid to make sure the athletes are well and stay well. They definitely do not need any added pressure.

  2. I absolutely agree with you that the decision should be taken out of the hands of the athletes, coaches, and parents. When you get to collegiate competition, athletes are almost always banged up with minor injuries and are trained to play through pain. The decision must be up to trained medical professionals to eliminate any conflict between all concerned parties. When it comes to concussions I think that sports have done a good job incorporating appropriate return-to-play protocols, especially in the NFL. None the less, I still believe that in many cases athletes are allowed to return-to-play based on their own discretion.

  3. What a must-read for all parents and coaches. Even during the Women's World Cup, there was a very bad head collision between two athletes (Germany and US) in which both athletes were taken from the field by coaches. Both athletes, however, wanted to stay in. At such a high level with everything on the line, it was great to see no chances were taken. Athletes first. And here we still have parents pressuring coaches to put CHILDREN back into a game with a possible concussion. I hope you tweet the heck out of his article to all parent magazines! Great job. Much needed.