If there’s one injury that has been lingering in sports for some time now, it would have to be the concussion. The Texas Longhorns just lost their junior Quarterback, David Ash, who recently made the decision to end his collegiate football career early. Ash, like many in the game of football, had been faced with dealing with concussion symptoms and side effects. It was announced on September 17th that the young quarterback would no longer be able to continue playing football due to long-term effects from a concussion suffered last season.
David Ash initially injured himself early last season against BYU late in the 4th quarter. After sitting out the next game, he returned when Texas took on Kansas State, but would soon realize just how serious his injury was. Ash continued to feel dizziness and headaches, which then resulted in him missing the remainder of the 2013 season in an effort to get healthy. After missing the majority of his team’s season, Ash was excited to be back on the field this year, thinking his issues with concussions were finally resolved.
Unfortunately, they were not, and during the season opener against North Texas he reported feeling dizzy and had a headache after taking only one hit. He was forced to make the decision to end his football career early in order to prevent further issues. Backed by his parents, coaches and teammates, David Ash thanked the Longhorn family for being supportive of his decision to take care of his health.
Like Ash, there are many more college and NFL football players who suffer concussions and do not receive the correct medical treatment. Those players often experience effects like loss of cognitive functions, depression, confusion, severe headaches, amnesia, and dizziness. It’s not an issue that has just became apparent, but more of an ongoing occurrence that seems to be swept under the rug more often than not.
The NFL has for years tried speaking with high school students on the dangers of concussions, the proper ways to hit on the field, and the therapy required for those who suffer them. But talking about it isn’t enough, and action is required in order to prevent concussions. Subsequently, the NFL has come under a lot of pressure to do so. It is not only losing potential players from joining the sport, but also dealing with retired players facing serious medical issues after their careers in football are over.
Just recently, on July 5th this year, several NFL veterans filed lawsuits against the NFL Players Association for reasons regarding their health. The former players involved in this included Bruce Smith, Ladell Betts, Christian Ballard, Greg Westerbrooks and Anthony Davis. These men all claimed that the league doctors and medical physicians did not do their best to warn them about the dangers of continuing to play after suffering a concussion. They also went on to say how the NFL somewhat pressures them to make a speedy recovery.
Players at that level feel even more inclined to come back quicker since they are being paid big money and there are other players all looking to take the next available spot. Others have filed lawsuits against the NFL as well, and the majority of the cases are seeking better medical monitoring and financial compensation for life after their professional careers.
The NFL isn’t the only organization under scrutiny for such a high number of concussions, but also the NCAA. In 2010, the NCAA implemented a new concussion management plan to help players recover from these injuries. A part of this management plan included professionals speaking with players at the start of the season; players also needed a medical clearance from a doctor in order to play after. Obviously, this isn’t an issue that will be fixed overnight. It’s a long term process which the NFL and NCAA can only hope to resolve overtime.
Hopefully David Ash will serve as an example that walking away from the game when the time comes is better than dealing with the long-term effects. The game needs more players like him to be influential role models for future athletes in the high school, collegiate and professional levels, where players often times ignore the side effects of concussions.
Although David Ash’s career is over, at least he can look back fondly on his final game, beating North Texas while throwing for 190 yards and 1 touchdown. After leading Texas to two different bowl games the past 2 years and also earning the 2011 Holiday Bowl MVP award, Ash can be proud of the run he had with Texas. No athlete wants to end his career early, but as Ash is demonstrating, life is more important than what happens on the field.
by CHRISTOPHER THAMES / contributing writer