Concussions are a hot topic in modern contact sports, whether they’re played in helmets, caps, or no protective headgear at all (save for a select few like Petr Čech).
Gary Cahill was the other half of the collision that sent Ryan Mason to hospital in Sunday’s Chelsea match against Hull City, but unlike the former Spurs man, the Chelsea captain was able to carry on after a short spell on the sidelines. Or, more accurately, was allowed to carry on. Or, even more accurately, was ideally evaluated for a concussion and then allowed to carry on.
Unfortunately, based on Conte’s post-match words, I’m not confident much of anything was done other than asking Cahill whether he was “okay” to play.
“It was a bad accident with Gary and, I must be honest, after the first half also Gary wasn't really good. He decided to continue the game.”
-Antonio Conte; source: ESPN
This is a decision that should not be up to the player. In fact, that’s literally part of the Premier League’s concussion protocol. Unlike muscle injuries or broken bones, head injuries can have ramifications far beyond just the physical. That’s why the NFL and rugby union/league and the Premier League have these protocols in the first place, or at least have them in theory.
But all that becomes pretty useless if the theory is not applied in practice. Any time there is a suspected concussion (as evaluated by a “neutral” medical observer, per guidelines), the Premier League’s protocol calls for an immediate substitution and no match action for at least six days. While this does create a potential disadvantage for the team (temporary subs, anyone?), this is a player safety issue, not a sporting issue.
Hopefully I’m just overreacting, but Cahill feeling groggy at half-time, some 30 minutes after the collision does not fill me with any confidence that he did not also suffer a concussion.
Meanwhile, the rather unfortunate Ryan Mason was transported to a local trauma center for further tests.
“Ryan Mason at this moment is staying in the hospital. I don't know more news about this. I hope nothing special, nothing serious, but at this moment the player stays in hospital. The doctor stayed with the player in hospital. I wait for news."
-Marco Silva; source: Sky
Latest updates paint an even scarier picture, with the Mirror reporting a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.
At this point, we’re all just hoping for some good news.
“Everyone at Chelsea wants to wish for him the best. [...] It was very bad this accident. Everyone at Chelsea, we hope to see him very soon on the pitch and to recover very soon."
-Antonio Conte; source: Sky
And please, pretty please, let’s take concussions more seriously. We don’t have to be stuck in the past; this is not an issue of glory or “manliness” or strength or will or determination or whatever other quality we want to assign to it.