A CDC report revealed almost 70% of high school athletes who experienced concussion symptoms continued to play. Of this group, 40% said their coach was not aware they might have a concussion. Athletes of all ages and levels of competition hide concussions, often citing an obligation to the team, or a fear of looking weak.
Team Up Speak Up Day, started by the Concussion Legacy Foundation, is trying to change this culture of hiding sports concussions by encouraging athletes to “speak up” when they think a teammate is concussed. The inspiration behind the event dates all the way back to 1905. Harvard University’s Head Football Coach Bill Reid gave an annual safety speech to his team, requesting “in case any man in any game gets hurt by a hit on the head so that he does not realize what he is doing, his teammates should at once insist that time be called and that a doctor come onto the field to see what is the trouble.”
Chris Nowinski, former Harvard University football player and co-founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, was shocked when he found out about the 1905 speech. Nowinski said Reid’s speech made him “realize that we’ve actually known about concussions for a really long time. And now we are ignoring them.” He explained that even though awareness of concussions is increasing, kids are still hesitant to come forward when they think they have a concussion.
Athletes don’t always report their own concussions, but a Reuters Health studyfound they tend to be more mindful of their teammates and friends. Teammates are often the closest eye witness to potentially concussive blows, and can spot concussion symptoms in each other on and off the field. This unique perspective makes them invaluable in spotting and reporting possible concussions, so their teammates can get the required care.
On Team Up Speak Up Day, coaches across the country will give Coach Reid’s historic speech to their team. Last year, over 3 million athletes in 150 different organizations heard the speech. As the event grows, the Concussion Legacy Foundation hopes to reach even more of the 44 million youth athletes in the United States
Team Up Speak Up Day is on September 12, 2017. Take the pledge to help change the culture and team up to fight concussions here.