Friday, September 5, 2008

Flawed injury reporting system a real gamble

The ACC's new injury policy is doing exactly what it was designed to do. That is why it's failing.

N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien was a big proponent of the new policy, which was implemented to standardize injury information and keep schools from gaining a competitive advantage.

On Mondays, schools must report which players are having surgery or out for the season. On Thursdays, schools must list injured players as out, doubtful, questionable or probable for Saturday's game.

Problem is, many injuries don't fit into the Monday categories. Take a cracked rib, for example. In the past, a school might have announced a player had a cracked rib and was expected to miss a certain number of weeks.

Now that injury doesn't get reported Monday if the rib didn't require surgery. On Thursday, the school would report the player as out for Saturday's game with a rib injury. The whole disinformation charade would continue each week until the player is ready to return.

With schools limiting information, reporters now are pestering players about their injuries, and that's dangerous. One day this week, Clemson defensive end Ricky Sapp told reporters the knee injury that will keep him out Saturday against The Citadel would require an MRI.

The next day, reporters gathered to ask the results of the MRI. But there was no MRI. Apparently there never was going to be an MRI. But don't blame Sapp. He's just 19 years old and might have misunderstood something he was told.

The adults who run a school's athletics program should be responsible for giving the correct information. And if reporters are pressing players for information, gamblers won't be far behind.

Because of medical privacy laws, publicizing injuries is a difficult job for school officials. Players sign waivers allowing injuries to be disclosed, but school officials are understandably squeamish about doing so.

Nonetheless, the coaches' primary motivation behind the policy seems to be preventing opponents from getting extra injury information that will create a competitive advantage.

But the real advantage coaches need to avoid is the one a gambler gains by giving $500 to the injured quarterback's roommate for information that will lead to a winning bet placed before Thursday's injury report comes out.

That's a problem no coach wants to have, and that's why this policy needs to be changed.

– Ken Tysiac


Effort Reporting System said...

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