The Pittsburgh Penguins blew it. Spectacularly, ingloriously, blew it by failing to protect Sidney Crosby, the "franchise," after a devastating hit to the head on New Year's Day. But maybe they did athletes a favour by highlighting the massive ignorance around concussions in sports.
After watching in horror as Mr. Crosby was felled by a mammoth blow, lay on the ice, dropped his mouthguard, stumbled to his feet, skated hunched over to the bench and then returned to the ice, possibly with a brain injury - who could possibly think their sons or daughters will be protected after absorbing a similar blow in youth sports?
All youth coaches from now on should carry in their sport bags a piece of equipment as important as a puck or ball, whistle or clipboard: the SCAT2, or Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2 ( download PDF), which is backed by an international consensus of brain doctors and includes some quick, reliable tests.
Don't ask an athlete who has been knocked silly, "Are you okay?" Sidney Crosby and any 12-year-old will say yes. Ask where the game is being played. Ask what month it is. Read a string of numbers, ask for it in reverse order. Ask athletes to stand with bare feet together, hands on hips, eyes closed, for 20 seconds.
And when in doubt, remember the Penguins' failure to protect Mr. Crosby's injured brain, and pull the child out of the game.
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