Injury Communication Between Players and Coaches is Vital to Player Safety
Throughout the last year in the sporting world, we have seen an influx of injuries that span
across all professional sports. With these injuries, come the players who will try to fight to stay on the field no matter what.
We saw this in the 2017-18 NFL season by quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Cam Newton, who
were both hit in the head and put themselves back into the game, despite stricter Concussion Protocol rules that were put into place this season.
While more serious injuries may cause players to go down in their sport immediately, others are
not as serious and might not even be noticed by the coaching staff. Across all levels of sports, it is the responsibility of the player to inform the right personnel. This is something that not all players do though, some would rather hide and play through their injury, which puts them at a risk to further hurt themselves, and subsequently their team.
Appalachian State Director of Athletic Training Services, Jon Mitchell, believes that trust is the
biggest factor when it comes to the relationship between the players and coaching staff.
“It’s interesting doing this for over 20 years and getting the kids to buy in to when they’re here.
They’re invincible and they don’t want to miss, they don’t think that stuff,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell said that undisclosed injuries happen all the time in sports. “These players want to play
and be on the field. They have a misconception in their minds that if they go to the athletic trainer they’re going to be held out, and not be able to play,” said Mitchell.
One of Mitchell’s challenges is to gain the players trust and allow the staff to help with these
injuries. In more recent years, the evolution of the medical field allows for coaches and training staff to be much better prepared for injuries. In a previous interview with Appalachian State Athletic Trainer, Maggie Berkowitz, she explained that there is medical equipment she works with now that she didn’t have growing up in sports.
“One of the newest ones we just bought is called a NordBord, and it measures eccentric
hamstring strength,” said Berkowitz. “There’s another new SCAT [Sport Concussion Assessment Tool] which is our concussion exam, that we sign everyone with. They just came out with the SCAT5, as opposed to the [SCAT]3 that we’ve been using.”
Still, despite the new equipment and better ways trainers can now rehab injuries, players hiding injuries is still a common occurrence.
Appalachian State Alumni, Justin McGovney, is currently training with ex-WCW and ex-WWE
wrestler, George South, and has already had to deal with the injuries that come with professional wrestling.
“I was doing my standard ‘self-bumps,’ warming up in the ring when I felt something big pop in
my back. I went for a second and third bump and by the third one it hurt so bad I couldn’t even get up,” McGovney said.
While McGovney informed his trainer of the injury afterward, he felt for a short time that he
would have to play through this pain to continue training, due to not wanting to disappoint his coach.
Mitchell believes the best approach is for players to have precaution and pressure athletic staff
about their possible injuries.
“Make it my fault. If you don’t tell me and the injury gets worse, then you come and tell me
seven days later, we’ll manage you, we’re disappointed, and it’s gotten worse,” said Mitchell. “If you come to me, and I say its nothing, and then seven days go by and it is something, now it’s on me. Make it me. Flip it around and make that decision mine. That’s what I’m here for. I’m a service for you guys to keep you on the field playing.”
While injury may never fully disappear in sports, the pros very heavily outweigh the cons in
almost any situation regarding disclosing an injury to the training staff. No player wants to sit out, but the risk to the players own well-being, and the being of the team is not worth struggling through an injury in secret.