“Quick! Staring contest, me and you, now!…you win, you always do.” – Ron Burgundy
Just like Ron Burgundy’s dog Baxter, is just seems like the media always wins. It’s truly incredible how good the media has gotten, from local to international levels, at making proverbial mountains out of molehills. The issue du jour in football is “player safety”, a cause whose forefront is the concussion. As someone who played football in high school and who currently coaches varsity-level high school athletics, I’m absolutely amazed by the current public perception about concussions. This perception, in my opinion, is totally overblown at best – just patently false at worst – and is due entirely to irresponsible media coverage of the issue. They say that “sex sells” and that’s true but nothing sells quite as well as good old fashioned fear. The media knows that and has exploited this issue to levels bordering on insanity, as exemplified by the coverage of UofA quarterback Matt Scott over the past few days.
On my daily drive home from work this week, I’ve had to endure seemingly endless discussion on local sports talk radio about what transpired at the end of the Wildcats’ 39-36 victory over the USC Trojans last weekend. For those of you that need it, here’s a recap: Scott gets hit with helmet-to-helmet contact from a USC defensive player at the end of a long run, he vomits on the field according to TV announcers, Arizona takes a timeout so that Scott can be evaluated and regroup, the Wildcats come out of the timeout with Scott still at the helm who then leads them to the game-clinching score a few plays later, and then he finishes the game on the bench as backup QB BJ Denker gets inserted to run the clock on their final possession. The controversy was created when head coach Rich Rodriguez, under the direction of whichever certified medical personnel is responsible for making such a determination, allowed Scott to finish out the second-to-last offensive series but not the final and equally if not more important series of the game. This series of events immediately turned the TV announcers, every fan who was at or watching the game, and every person who later heard about the game into an Internet Doctor. An Internet Doctor is the negligent and irresponsible cousin of the Armchair Quarterback. These are the people that have been flooding the talk radio shows and Wildcats fan sites with their totally baseless opinions about the propriety of how the situation was handled on Saturday and how it should be handled moving forward. If you happen to fall into this category then shame on you! The truth of the matter is that without firsthand knowledge of the situation, such opinions are totally and completely useless. These people should just save their breath for something constructive like talking about how Matt Scott deserves some overdue recognition from the Heisman voters.
For the record, I’m absolutely not trying to downplay the serious nature of concussions, which are literally traumatic injuries incurred by the brain. I’m also not saying that people aren’t entitled to a level of concern for Matt Scott or any athlete for that matter. It just needs to be said that assumptions which are impossible for the general public about medical protocols and a medical diagnosis are uncivilized and need to stop. The Wildcats deserve better from their fans.