Pittsburgh Penguins hockey star Sidney Crosby won’t be taking the ice again until after he recovers fully from concussion-like symptoms brought about by repeated blows to the head last season, ESPN reported. The symptoms have kept him from playing since January.
During a news conference Thursday, the 24-year-old former MVP attempted to quell speculation that he would not return to the game but emphasized that he would not play again until symptoms, including “fogginess” and migraines, improve.
“Maybe I can get by with 90 percent, maybe I couldn’t but I’m not going to roll the dice with that,” he told reporters.
Crosby is the latest professional athlete to struggle with head trauma, and his case brings yet more attention to the debate about what needs to be done to protect these athletes from concussions.
Indeed, the story comes on the same day as an NPR report on the new NFL safety rules that will go into effect with the first kickoff of the season tonight, even as some fans argue that attempts to control the hard hits will detract from the game.
Voices urging more protection for players are growing louder, however. The suicide of Nashville Predators star Wade Belak last month, the third death in recent months of a hard-hitting NHL enforcer in which suicide was suspected, sparked speculation that the long-term effects of head trauma might be to blame.
Former pro football player Dave Duerson committed suicide in February by shooting himself in the chest. He requested in a suicide note that his brain be sent to the NFL brain bank for study. In May, researchers found that his brain did, indeed, show evidence of head trauma.
And it’s not just suicides. The father of 22-year-old Derek Sheely, starting fullback for the Frostburg State University Bobcats in Western Maryland, suspects that a brain injury was to blame for his son’s death earlier this month.
Professional sports organizations are starting to recognize the problem. The National Football League began hanging posters in locker rooms last season that describe symptoms of concussions and, for the first time, warning players and their coaches of the potential long-term consequences. And the latest offering from the popular Madden NFL video game franchise even has a feature that will take a virtual player out of the game if he experiences a concussion, an addition developers say they hope will bring the serious consequences of head trauma home for young fans.
But cases such as Crosby’s suggest that more needs to be done to protect young athletes from concussions.