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New NCAA Concussion Policy Brings Back Common Sense03:35

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Former UNLV basketball player Roscoe Smith sat out two games with a concussion in 2014. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)closemore
Former UNLV basketball player Roscoe Smith sat out two games with a concussion in 2014. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Besides establishing a fund that's probably inadequate — given that the purpose of the $70 million is to underwrite a 50-year medical monitoring program to examine thousands and thousands of former, current and future college athletes -- Tuesday's NCAA settlement with former players in a head-injury lawsuit mandates that NCAA member schools will make some changes in whatever "concussion-management policies" they'd previously developed.

It might almost make you wonder if the NCAA's real concern has been promoting the games that have made the organization rich and powerful.

Under the terms of Tuesday's agreement, athletes diagnosed with concussions would be prohibited from returning to play on the same day.

That sounds like the sort of common sense that shouldn't have required a year's worth of negotiation by lawyers who'll apparently be paid in the neighborhood of $15 million for their efforts.

Perhaps it sounds that way to me because I had the benefit of that common sense in 1969, during the fall of my senior year in college.

I'd been playing club soccer. I got kicked in the head. I was taken to the college infirmary with the symptoms of a concussion, although by the time I was examined, I was able to recall that Richard Nixon was president.

[sidebar title="Concussion Coverage" width="330" align="right"] Check out more of Only A Game's coverage of head injuries here. [/sidebar]I was kept overnight at that infirmary. In the morning, the doctor who'd examined me said that for at least several weeks, I should stay out of any situation that might put me at risk for another concussion.

Not for just a day. For several weeks. I asked if riding a motorcycle counted. He said it did.

He said that my brain, which had been bounced around in my skull, needed time to recover.

That this common sense dispensed to a club athlete almost 45 years ago should only now become part of the protocol of the organization allegedly established in part to insure the safety of student athletes seems extraordinary. It might almost make you wonder if the NCAA's real concern has been promoting the games that have made the organization rich and powerful, rather than protecting the health of the unpaid labor force that has sustained it.

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