He was wide open deep in enemy territory, or so he thought. But as soon as he reached around to take a shot, junior lacrosse player Peter Gold got slashed on the side of his body by an opposing player and hit his head on the ground, hard.

“I spin around, and while I was spinning another opposing player smacks me pretty hard,” Gold said. “I fall to the ground and then another player falls onto my head, pancaking my head to the ground. I was instantly in another dimension. I quickly saw the stars, and I got up pretty quickly. I walked off the field, in which I believe was my adrenaline that carried me to the bench. But once I sat down I couldn’t stand up for at least 30 minutes, and the trainer proceeded to declare my concussion.”

“My current concussion has forced me to stay in a dark room for most of the day. I can’t stand light. I can’t stand noise. I am slow to answer questions. I am constantly nauseous. It’s pretty depressing.”

Varsity Lacrosse Player Peter Gold

When involved in a contact sport, there is a high possibility of getting injured, although the “contact” part of the sport — whether it is football, basketball or soccer — is sometimes a contributing factor to the appeal of the game. Concussions can occur in traditional contact sports but can also occur in non-traditional ones.

Oftentimes, concussions happen when a hit to the body is the least expected; when the body is not prepared for contact, an athlete is more likely to be severely injured.

Junior Keenan Laurence was playing lacrosse his freshman year and received a severe concussion, which led to an academic and athletic downfall. He was out for the rest of the season as well as the rest of the school year, and was not able to do anything but rest.

Because of the harsh effects of concussions, the majority of students and coaches involved in contact sports are aware of its consequences and how detrimental it can be to not only the students’ health, but also their lives beyond the sport. Severe concussions may result in longer lasting effects that may impact a students’ academic abilities too. Gold believes that his concussion has limited his capabilities in many ways.

“My current concussion has forced me to stay in a dark room for most of the day,” Gold said. “I can’t stand light. I can’t stand noise. I am slow to answer questions. I am constantly nauseous. It’s pretty depressing.”

In many cases, the worst part of having a bruised brain is that the symptoms are not always easily diagnosed.

In the long run, it is better to play it safe than to risk potentially having permanent brain damage.

 With a concussion, athletes are oftentimes fully conscious and are eager to go back into the game.

This feeling can be frustrating for many athletes, because having the drive to compete and desire to win, but being pulled out of a game, is never a pleasant experience.

“It’s extremely frustrating when you work the entire reason as well as preseason to get to the championships, which we were bound to go to [but don’t get to play],” Gold said. “Being taken out of a non-league game especially is extremely frustrating. I played three games prior to that one, and I was already feeling tired, but when I got hit in the head I thought, ‘Geez, that’s my entire season right there, all in just a second: gone.’”

On some occasions, athletes feel the need to hide the fact that they are injured. Athletes do not want to abandon their team, and fear being forced to sit out for long periods of time. They often do not want to face the reality of the concussion.

However, according to Kidshealth.org, “continuing to play if you have an injury can make that injury worse. A small stress fracture that might have healed quickly can grow into a more serious, more painful fracture that will take longer to heal. Returning to play too soon after a concussion can increase your risk of serious brain injury.”

Although some athletes might feel the need to play after receiving a potential concussion or injury, according to varsity lacrosse coach DJ Shelton, under no circumstances do Paly coaches ever condone this kind of behavior.

Essentially, in the long run, it is better to play it safe than to take the risk of potentially having permanent brain damage.

Athletes are becoming increasingly aware of the possibilities of being injured and how it can worsen brain injuries, affecting them negatively.

Even still, athletes need to continue to take care of their bodies and take their health and well-being very seriously.

“I always pull players off the field even if they don’t want to and check before putting them back in,” Shelton said. “It’s not worth the risk, because winning a game is not worth the possible brain damage. I don’t make it a discussion. I just make it clear. Whenever heavy head contact is made, even if they say they’re fine, there might be symptoms, even ones they’re not aware of.”

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Maya Ravel-Bailey
Woj's Assistant

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