I’ve resisted this one, because nothing good comes from wading into the current political tar pit. But what I’m about to write would be the same regardless of which presidential candidate said it.
Speaking at a rally in Florida on Wednesday, Donald Trump noticed that a woman had fainted, regained consciousness, and returned to the audience.
“The woman was out cold, and now she’s coming back,” Trump declared, via ESPN.com. “See? We don’t go by these new and very much softer NFL rules. Concussion, oh! Oh! Got a little ding on the head, no, no, you can’t play for the rest of the season. Our people are tough.”
Whatever words would be used to explain away the remark as a joke or, you know, “locker-room banter,” any effort by a candidate for the highest office in the land to make light of the ongoing concussion crisis cuts against the important change in culture that football and other sports will need in order to ensure that people who may have suffered concussions will make the condition known and remove themselves from play until they are properly evaluated and, if concussed, until they recover.
The NFL had no comment in response to Trump’s remarks, but the league surely can’t be thrilled about his ongoing effort to paint football and, in turn, football players as soft. That’s the attitude that will tempt players to hide the symptoms of concussions, for fear of being labeled as something other than tough.
On the scale of outlandish things that this specific candidate has said in recent weeks, this one lands at (to use a numbering system with which he’s familiar) at three or four. Still, politicians who question the gravity of the health condition and who challenge the toughness of those who won’t play with a concussion will undo many of the gains that the NFL and other football conditions carefully have made since the league finally agreed, against its will, to take concussions seriously.