Concussions and athlete safety are hot button issues right now in the sporting world. As long as the effects of violent head trauma become more and more known the issue will continue to grow. We've seen interviews with former NFL stars only a decade or two removed from the sport rapidly declining into early Alzheimer's and dementia. The recent suicide of Junior Seau, only two years removed from retirement, shocked the world. The long lasting effects of head trauma are undeniable, yet we still see evidence that suggests winning is placed in higher regard than player safety. Recently the NFL fined the Washington Redskins $20,000 for not properly reporting their quarterback had a concussion, stating he was "shaken up" instead of concussed.
At Salisbury University they don't have this issue. From top to bottom, from administrators to medical staff to coaches, everybody involved in the sports program has made a full commitment to player safety. Recently I spoke with the school's head athletic trainer on the issue. When questioned on players "getting their bell rung" Dr. Lamboni responded authoritatively by saying there is no such thing as a "bell ringing" or being "just shaken up". According to him, a concussion is a serious injury, and whether it is mild or severe is inconsequential. It is this kind of dedication to keeping players healthy that makes him such an important leader in Salisbury's Athletics Department. But that commitment to doing "the right thing" must come from the top. Those in positions of authority involved in the schools athletic program must set the example by not pressuring medical personnel to downgrade or not diagnose symptoms to get athletes back on the field. It also comes from responsible coaches like Sherman Wood of the Varsity Football Squad. He understands that football is a violent sport, and he is in constant communication with medical personnel regarding injuries, recovery, and timetables for returns. In a recent interview he stated he would never consider sending a player back onto the field if the medical staff disagrees. He also alluded to the idea that major Division 1 Football Programs are money-makers, with the priority on championships and raking in sponsorship and endorsements. Being a Division III schools allows for more emphasis on player safety, upholding academic standards, and less pressure to win at all costs. Maybe other programs can't win without skirting the rules, but SU football is finding a way to do both. They are currently ranked 16th in the nation, and a win in their next game brings home a second consecutive conference title.