Texas Tech incident shows football injuries need more caution

January 26, 2010 — by Roy Bisht

On Dec. 17, 21-year old Adam James, a player on the Texas Tech football team, was forced by coaches to sit in a dark, secluded and guarded storage closet. He was threatened with suspension if he were to try and escape. No, this was not the armed forces or a Middle Eastern kidnapping. It was coach Mike Leach’s way of “curing” James’s concussion.

Leach forced James, a redshirt (a college athlete who sits out one year, but is allowed to practice with the team without losing a year of eligibility) sophomore receiver, into the darkest available room—incidentally, a claustrophobic closet. For three hours, James could not sit down, stand up and, worst of all, leave the pitch black closet.

This could easily have been another ignorant Texan faux pas if Leach hadn’t (allegedly) told James that if he were to leave the “room,” he would be removed from the Red Raiders football team. Roughly two weeks later, Leach was fired from his position as head coach for poor handling of James’ injury. Adding to the controversy was that James is the son of former NFL great Craig James, who is now a television sports commentator, and many Leach defenders said the wide receiver got special treatment because of his famous father.

College football is arguably the most intense and popular of the collegiate sports, and it is tradition for coaches to condition and work their players to extreme measures. The tendencies for coaches to stretch the capabilities of their team has been the subject of much controversy and discussion, not to mention in pop culture. One would be hard-pressed to find a football movie without the notoriously rough-and-tumble coach. However, in the end, the team’s eventual victory far outshines the initial struggles.

But when a player is injured, coaches should leave their demanding attitudes on the field. Football is, without doubt, the most dangerous competitive sport in the world. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention, around 47 percent of high school football players suffer concussions each season.

Leach has recently been dubbed, “Dr. Leach,” an ironic stab at his embarrassing lack of medical knowledge. Leaving the injuries up to the head trainer and his crew would be the best overall choice. Letting people who dedicate their lives to situations like this would be the safest option when dealing with a football injury.

The rights of players should always be an important factor when dealing with injuries. After all, they are the only ones who truly know how severe the pain from the injury is. Plus, it is their body and they should have a say in the physical treatment that they receive for any injuries that they may sustain.

In general, injuries should be taken with caution in sports, especially with a game as rigorous and violent as football. Lacking proper medical attention could not only end an athlete’s career, but also his life.

For the safest possible outcome during a injury, not just in football, but for any other sport, leave the medical treatment to the medical staff. Coaches are hired to run the team, not the medical staff, and least of all the janitorial one.

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