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US Concussion expert: World Cup sets bad example

US concussion expert says World Cup players set bad example for football youth

Posted on July 15, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on July 15, 2014 at 9:12 p.m.

BOSTON (AP) — World Cup organizers repeatedly failed to follow their own concussion protocol and then failed to take advantage of the international interest in the tournament to teach football fans and young players about the dangers of head injuries, U.S. concussion expert Chris Nowinski said Tuesday.

“I’m worried about how many kids emulate these athletes. It wasn’t just one athlete hurt; it was one multiplied by 1 million,” Nowinski said. “They didn’t even use a bully pulpit and say: ‘This is unacceptable.‘”

Several times in the monthlong tournament, players sustained obvious concussions but continued to play — a practice doctors agree can put them at risk of severe brain damage.

In the final, Germany midfielder Christoph Kramer stayed in the game after colliding with Argentina defender Ezequiel Garay. Kramer later had to be helped off the field and said he couldn’t remember much from the collision — signature symptoms of a concussion.

“Clearly if there is a protocol, it isn’t being followed,” Nowinski said.

A college football player turned professional wrestler who retired because of concussions in the ring, Nowinski helped start the Sports Legacy Institute to educate the public about head injuries. The group held a conference Tuesday to roll out its “hit count” initiative to help track and reduce concussions in young athletes.

Although Nowinski is more concerned about amateur players — who might not be able to make decisions about their health, and who aren’t compensated for the damage they may be sustaining — the World Cup injuries to Kramer and others who became disoriented or even unconscious showed that even the pros need to be protected.

“It was a great teaching point: Immediately after the injury, you can’t leave it up to the athlete,” Nowinski said. “Some of these concussions, they clearly weren’t able to make decisions for themselves.”




 In this Thursday, July 17, 2014 photo construction workers build a commercial complex in Springfield, Ill. The state jobless rate has dropped for four straight months and is at its lowest point since October 2008. Illinois has lagged the country as a whole in its recovery from recession, and the state's unemployment rate has been among the worst in the country for months. Thursday's report provides signs that Illinois may be starting to catch up. Construction companies added 3,500 jobs in June, an increase of 1.8 percent. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Updated on July 20, 2014 at 11:14 a.m.
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