Lifestyles’ focus on concussions does public service

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The December issue of Lifestyles magazine was outstanding. Devoting essentially the entire issue to the problem of concussions arising from contact sports being played in high school is a service the entire community should applaud.

I hope this issue will be made available to all high schools as well as middle schools and primary schools as many high school athletes have already played contact sports before entering high school.

It seems obvious that all students entering high school and planning to participate in sports should be required to take the ImPACT test for a baseline as suggested in the issue.

Perhaps the magazine should even be offered by the U-B statewide to appropriate sports authorities.

I played amateur ice hockey for many years as a goaltender (advice to fans, watch games from behind the goaltender rather than from center ice). I could play the entire game and see every play develop. I occasionally would have to explain to my defense how to play breaks.

Then I took a slap shot from close in right in the middle of my eyes. My mask bent and twisted my helmet, driving the two mounting screws into my forehead and cracking the helmet.

I sat down until I realized the fluid flowing down my face was blood from a superficial cut to my scalp from the screws and not sweat.

Though the doctor who stitched my cut ruled out a concussion, I never played again.

I realized then that continuing to play believing my equipment would protect me was simply a non-economic example of “moral hazard.”

Car drivers often engage in risky behavior believing air bags and seat belts will save them from the costs and consequences of such behavior.

Cyclists also believe helmets will do the same when they behave recklessly. Sometimes they’re correct, sometimes not.

Proper equipment and training does not release participants from acknowledging the costs, consequences and responsibilities of engaging in risky activities. Today’s contact sports are risky.

And, a little thought will suggest a variety of other situations where the concept of “moral hazard” applies.

Dick Swenson

Walla Walla

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