November 6, 2012 • 20 Second Timeouts94 FeetWinning Hoops

Monty Williams’ Thoughts On Concussions & Being A Man Are Archaic

Maybe it’s because I’m deep in research and interviews for an informative concussion update in the January issue of Coach And Athletic Director magazine, or maybe it’s because I have two young daughters, but New Orleans Hornets’ Monty Williams flippant comments about the seriousness of brain injuries and sexist remarks about how players are treated have me fuming today.

In Friday’s game against the Utah Jazz, No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis received an accidental elbow to the head from teammate Austin Rivers. Davis left the contest with what reports deemed a “mild concussion.” Williams was quoted as saying, “He got touched up a little bit last night.”

No concussion is mild. Concussions are brain injuries and unfortunately are difficult to diagnose/treat, so people like to slap labels like “mild” on them to attempt to make them easier to understand.

Dr. Michael Koester, the director of the Slocum Sports Concussion Program in Eugene, Ore., told me Saturday during an extensive interview for my January piece that making a proper diagnosis at the exact time of the incident is near impossible, which makes establishing a level for a brain injury not worthwhile. “It’s hard to peg the symptoms right away and recovery times for concussions vary. No brain injury is mild, he says.

So, for starters, Williams is incorrect in his initial assessment of Davis’ head injury. Next, Williams went a step further and criticized the league’s policy, which due to the possibility of a concussion did not allow Davis to get on a plane with his team and travel to Chicago for Saturday’s game. Williams—whose squad went 21-45 last year so having Davis on the floor definitely is necessary for the Hornets to compete—went on to say he believes players should have a say in when they come back from a concussion.

I doubt there are many players in any sport at any level who are going to say, “You know what, my head isn’t right. I’m not going to play tonight.” Giving that flexibility to players opens them up to even more severe brain injuries if they sustain a second blow to the head before the first has time to heal.

Then, to make matters worse, Williams decided to challenge the league’s concussion policy by claiming, “It’s just that now they treat everybody like they have white gloves and pink drawers.” In Williams’ eyes, properly receiving treatment for a brain injury is something only women do, and, for some reason, he’s putting it out there as a negative. As a final sexist nail in the coffin, he described basketball as “a man’s game.” I’m sure the hundreds of thousands of females shooting baskets for high schools, colleges and professional teams are thrilled to hear that.

It’s 2012. Safeguarding against concussions is a necessary and welcome shift against the previous thinking about pushing players back into action after being “dinged” or “getting their bell run.” And, I thought we were past this misguided notion that being weak and soft are negative female qualities.

In one rambling postgame interview, Williams attempted to set back the plight of injured athletes and the equality of women. Coaches and athletic directors—don’t fall into this misguided way of thinking. You’re better than this and your players (male and female) deserve more from you.

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