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US Concussion expert: World Cup sets bad example

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 15, 2014 at 6:35 pm •  Published: July 15, 2014
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BOSTON (AP) — World Cup organizers repeatedly failed to follow their own concussion protocol and then failed to take advantage of the international interest in the tournament to teach soccer fans and young players about the dangers of head injuries, concussion expert Chris Nowinski said Tuesday.

"I'm worried about how many kids emulate these athletes. It wasn't just one athlete hurt; it was one multiplied by 1 million," Nowinski said. "They didn't even use a bully pulpit and say: 'This is unacceptable.'"

Several times in the monthlong tournament, players sustained obvious concussions but continued to play — a practice doctors agree can put them at risk of severe brain damage.

In the final, Germany midfielder Christoph Kramer stayed in the game after colliding with Argentina defender Ezequiel Garay. Kramer later had to be helped off the field and said he couldn't remember much from the collision — signature symptoms of a concussion.

"Clearly if there is a protocol, it isn't being followed," Nowinski said.

A Harvard football player turned professional wrestler who retired because of concussions in the ring, Nowinski helped start the Sports Legacy Institute to educate the public about head injuries. The group held a conference Tuesday to roll out its "hit count" initiative to help track and reduce concussions in young athletes.

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