Monthly Archives: April 2012
Think savage hits and the first think that probably pops into your mind is the NFL. The second thing to float across your brain waves is probably the NHL. Body checks! Slashing sticks! It’s that whatever-it-takes mentality, or as Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis used to say, “Just win baby win.”
But no longer is violence predominately associated with just professional and college sports. Just recently a court in Massachusetts denied the filing of a criminal complaint charge against a high school hockey player who administered an overzealous body check. It seems that the Plymouth District Court magistrate could find no probable cause.
That’s no surprise. More happens in a hockey game sometimes than getting mugged in a dark alley. Ironically, not even a penalty was called on the body check.
But the parents of Duxbury player Tucker Hannon didn’t see it that way, particularly in view of the fact that they said their son received a concussion that keep him out of school for five weeks. They got themselves a lawyer and filed assault and battery charges against Scituate player Alex Way.
In finding no probably cause, Clerk Magistrate Philip McCue made it sweet and simple at the hearing saying, “I’m not going to sit here as a hockey referee.”
After the hearing, both players made statements.
According to Hannon, Way made an apology for the check. “He seemed very genuine,” the 18 year-old Duxbury High School junior said.
“I didn’t want it to go this far,” Way, 18, said. “I had no intention of causing bodily injury. He’s a nice kid. It seems like he has a nice family. I’m sorry he had a concussion.”
Prior to issuing his ruling, McCue spoke to both players separately.
He was sympathetic to Hannon’s circumstance of having to endure two weeks of darkness on doctor’s advice. Exposure to light is an aggravating factor when it comes to an injury like a concussion.
When McCue met with Way, he cautioned him: “I hope you’ve learned from this. When you have speed and strength involved, you can hurt somebody.”
Way’s attorney, Robert Harnais, termed the hearing a “travesty.” He continued, “We’re saying to parents of high school sports athletes: Make sure you buy equipment for your child, make sure you pay the (league) fees so they can play, and make sure you have a lawyer on retainer.”
Tucker’s father, Thomas Hannon, took the high road when McCue issued his ruling. His hopes are that the awareness of this issue will effect change in how the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association evaluates plays that can cause concussions.
The NBA didn’t pull any punches, so to speak, in suspending Metta World Peace for seven gaames after his elbow, which caught fellow basketball player James Harden flush, and caused a concussion
Commissioner David Stern considered Peace’s track record and the viciousness of the hit on Oklahoma City’s Harden, who has been held out of several regular season games because of the injury.
“I can tell you that it’s some combination of art and science,” Stern said during a conference call with the media. “We look at the previous penalties. We look at who’s involved in the altercation. We do take into account the seriousness of the injury and whatever else was in the atmosphere, and then it just becomes my job to decide what it should be. If I were looking inside from without that, I would agree with everyone who has an opinion, but at the end of the day, it’s my job to make the decision and then move on, and hopefully we can.”
Who determines if a player has suffered a concussion?
Who decides when a player is ready to return to the game?
In light of current pending Ohio legislation and the wording therein, this is of grave concern to a nonprofit association such as the Ohio Alliance of YMCAs since youth organizations of this nature rely heavily on volunteer coaches and referees.
The current wording in the bill stipulates that coaches or officials must remove an athlete from a game or practice if he or she has sustained a concussion or is thought to have one. Tied to this measure is the requirement that schools as well as youth organizations cannot allow people to perform coaching duties unless they have been trained in the recognition of brain and head injuries.
The alliance’s executive director, Beth Tsevtkoff, reported to an Ohio House health committee that maintaining records on concussions and the requirements to remove a player because of suspected signs of head injury just magnifies the legal liability for volunteers and non-school organizations.
Tsevtkoff further stated, “We understand that the coaches, the referees, and us as an organization should be responsible for our actions. We agree with that.”
One of the problems lies in the fact that referees and coaches can change from game to game, and keeping up with an injured child from a previous game can be very difficult to do. “It sets up an infrastructure where a volunteer parent who is a coach or a referee in a game is being held responsible for incidents they would have no idea of what happened,” she said.
The concussion training requirements as framed in the bill are supported by Tsvetkoff and theAlliance, but Tsvetkoff wants the lawmakers to delete the language that requires for a player to be removed from a game.
However, Rep. John Patrick Carney, D-Columbus was quick to reply, “If there is no attaching liability, ultimately, where’s the teeth? There is no teeth. You could have a coach knowingly send someone back into play who they think has a concussion and ultimately there’s no liability on the back end.”
The struggle revolves around how to shield everyone from every potential liability.
In view of these challenging circumstances, Tsvetkoff made it clear though that theAllianceis working diligently on changes in the language with lawmakers. “We think the bill is actually really great,” she said. “Hopefully, we can find that middle ground.”
Photo by Tim Hipps