Oscar playing after concussion confirms protocols don’t work

There is a famous quote by former Vice President John Nance Garner who said that the vice presidency is “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” Based on what we saw during the Arsenal/Chelsea game, the EPL’s new concussion protocols may be in that same bucket. Chelsea forward Oscar and Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina collided as Oscar was going in on goal. Well, it was less a collision and more an instance of Oscar taking a hit from an NFL linebacker and not having a helmet or pads on.

Not surprisingly, Oscar went down to the ground after the hit and was not in a good place. As this video of the aftermath shows, Oscar is clearly not in the right frame of mind and clearly suffered some sort of head injury.

What was shocking about this play was that a penalty wasn’t called, what was a bigger shock was that Oscar came back into the game after the hit. Chelsea’s medical staff deemed Oscar was good to go and essentially gave a big “F U” to the new EPL concussion protocol introduced this season. The EPL concussion protocol has rules and procedures in place for a team medical staff to follow through in case someone has or is suspected of having a concussion. Procedures include recognizing symptoms such as blurriness, headache and confusion by doing simple tests like asking basic questions. There is also supposed to be a tunnel doctor who is not affiliated with either team that is meant to help in diagnosing and if a player needs to be subbed out.

The problem has been that no player seems to be getting subbed out. Obviously, not every collision is a concussion so there are legitimate times when players are and should be able to go back into the game. Having said that, it’s also naive to think that everyone who takes a knock to the head (like today) isn’t that big of a deal, isn’t a concussion and they should still be able to play. Chelsea subbed Oscar out at halftime and sent him to the hospital so that’s at least progress, but it’s still not an ideal decision to make when Oscar should’ve been subbed out right away.

This highlights the growing issue that EPL teams are not taking the concussion protocols seriously. We see players all the time who are seemingly knocked out and then get back into the game as if nothing happened. If that’s the case, why are the protocols there in the first place? This also happened in the FIFA World Cup Final. Christoph Kramer took a blow to the head that later was ruled to be a concussion. He was subbed out 14 minutes after he was hit in the head. There were no rules in place at the time saying the player had to be subbed out, but sometimes it should be common sense to take someone out.

The Oscar situation led to many people, including ESPN soccer announcer and concussion awareness advocate Taylor Twellman, to comment on the situation. Twellman’s playing career ended due to head injuries and has been vocal in concussion awareness and reform in all sports for the past five years. Here were his tweets on the situation.

Twellman is a polarizing figure when it comes to the head injury debate. He usually retweets those who criticize him or think he’s “soft” by wanting better concussion reform and they feel he should let the players play. The fact is that Twellman has a vested interest in learning about head injuries and is trying to improve the well being for everyone. He has learned more about this topic than any of us fans. His career ended because of head injuries and he wants to make sure his colleagues don’t suffer a similar or even worse fate as he has.

Whether you’re playing in the EPL or in a pickup game or as a youth player, the concussion risks are very real and some people may be dealing with side effects for the rest of their life. That’s why a concussion is more than “just a headache” or “just getting your bell rung.” You may not agree with Twellman or think that he talks about this way too much but he is an expert on head injuries and it’s a very serious issue. Maybe we should at least listen to him before being ignorant.

About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Follow me on Twitter @phillipbupp

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