The NCAA today sends us their best possible maneuver, it appears, above and around the Concussion onslaught which is running at them. Their medical director, Brian Hainline, is featured as a part of the NCAA’s announced “new guidelines” for “mental health” for student-athletes. The NCAA’s Institute for Sport Science has informed the NCAA that “Mental health struggles manifest themselves at high levels among college students in general,” but also that “student athletes, who take active roles in competition, face the added pressure that the drive for success creates.”
And this situation is so dire that the NCAA — an association of college sports managers, — has decided that it wants to issue a set of guidelines for its schools, to use in handling these difficult and unique mental health issues suffered by ‘student-athletes.’ This, from an outift which formally asserted, in response to a wrongful-death action brought by the parents of dead football player Derek Sheely, that it has no responsibility whatsoever for the health and welfare of student athletes.
And NCAA Medical Director Hainline (who also carries the title of “Sport Sciene Senior Vice President”), concluded in a recent speech at Drexel University that “Just generally speaking, mental health has not been always the priority…It’s sort of like a silent injury because you can’t see it on an X-ray and the culture is often just to tough it out.”
“A Silent Injury”: For legal purposes, mental health injuries require a higher standard of proof — but Dr. Hainline, in all his wisdom, has just helped every college athlete to satisfy that higher standard. What he’s saying is that the non-collision stressors of college sports clearly cause a silent mental injury. Wow.
I can only guess that this might be part of some kind of overly-clever NCAA strategy to avoid liability for concussion-related injuries, by suggesting that whatever symptoms some players claim from concussions are just the result of mental health stress issues. Alternatively, it may be a ruse, to allow the NCAA to encourage schools to provide more “counselling,’ which will allow their school-provided counsellors to accumulate long narrative histories from the players about the many alternative life-stressors, other than on-field collisions, which cause them to be depressed or otherwise debilitated.
But Hainline has here committed to the principle, not only that the NCAA and schools commonly cause the student-athlete’ a ‘silent injury’, which he defines as one you “can’t see on x-ray,” whjere the culture is “often just to tough it out,” — but also that the NCAA has an obvious duty to admit to, and provide care for, any “silent” injury which you “can’t see on x-ray.” Like . . . maybe . . . concussions?
Just one more morsel from the NCAA as squirrel-in-the-headlights, darting everywhere, desperate to avoid the oncoming.