Head injuries hit CFL


author: konstantin kharitonov  | sports editor

Father time is undefeated / Pixabay

Concussions for everybody!

Every single time that a player has the injury tag applied to them, it reminds me of a quote made by an NHL player back in 2015 (that I unfortunately cannot remember the name of). It was made in response to a reporter’s question asking whether the label applied to him. What followed is arguably the greatest response in NHL history.

“No, I am not injury prone. I am prone to being beamed in the head.”

It’s a correct statement, not just for him but to every person on Earth really. Hits to the head, especially hard ones that come with contact sports, often tend to have a lasting effect on a person. This is even more true for people who get multiple injuries to the head.

Which brings us to Zach Collaros, who had just completed his first season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in disappointing fashion. Acquired from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for a 2018 second round pick last offseason, Collaros was brought in to be the team’s number-one quarterback, but due to multiple concussions, missed more than six weeks of playing time and sat out the Riders’ playoff game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Collaros does have a history of head injuries that dates back all the way to 2014, still a member of the Tiger-Cats. Since then, it has been hit after hit to his head and because of it, he has missed significant time. Just this season, the quarterback sat out for six weeks and missed four games due to a concussion after a game against the Ottawa Redblacks on June 21, 2018. Unfortunately, it did not last long, for the quarterback went back to the injured reserve with yet another concussion suffered against the B.C. Lions on October 27, the last game of the season.

That’s a lot of brain trauma for a guy who just recently turned 30 years old. With what sports science has been discovering about concussions and their lasting effects, such as permanent brain damage, dementia and depression. Every subsequent concussion damages the brain that much more and it takes that much less to cause another one. And in his career, Collaros has almost missed a full season due to them.

As such, one question pops up, is Zach Collaros an injury prone player?

Coming from just a fan perspective, I think a distinction like that is unfair the player, because concussions are not an injury that effects everyone differently, dependent on a person’s genes. Everyone has a sensitive head, no matter how big or how small or how athletic a person is. A hit to the head will hurt everyone.

Labelling someone as injury prone implies that their body is more susceptible to specific injuries after contact to a specific part of the body. Say an athlete has a bad shoulder, leading them to have a major injury in an otherwise routine hit. However, if an athlete is constantly getting injured due to hits that are damaging to any person, then its not the fault of the athlete’s body.

Going back to Collaros, let’s look at the hit that he took against the Lions just a few weeks ago. In a routine play, Collaros goes towards the left side of the field and is completely open, looking for a pass. BC Lion Odell Willis comes charging in and hits the quarterback in a helmet to helmet. It was a dirty hit, and Collaros remained down on the field before needing the assistance of teammates to get back up. Willis was penalized for roughing the passer and was later fined half of his game day salary. The Leader-Post and former Roughrider GM Brendan Taman even had some harsh words on the hit, saying how dangerous it was.

“Worst of all, the late hit on Collaros, it was a disgrace. They missed an obvious unnecessary roughness call. It is absolutely not acceptable anymore in football.”

If Zach Collaros received one of the worst hits in recent CFL history, then is it save to say that its not the fault of the player for getting injured? The league’s commissioner Randy Ambrosie even admitted that the CFL he should have been not allowed to remain on the field because the hit was that bad.

A player should not get the reputation of being made of glass after the injuries he receives come from dirty hits to parts of the body that are naturally sensitive. An athlete can’t train to avoid getting concussion after getting hit in the head.

A lot of athletes who train improperly can become more susceptible to injuries to parts of their body. Zach Collaros and his history of concussions and how he got them is not one of them.

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