Ex-JSU coach works to help avoid sports injuries
by Brandon Miller
bmiller@annistonstar.com
Jul 25, 2013 | 2952 views |  0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GADSDEN — Former Jacksonville State head football coach Jack Crowe is on a mission to educate coaches, players and parents around the Southeast about sports injuries.

After spending 12 years coaching the Gamecocks, Crowe now represents Strategic Solutions and he was one of six people seated at Gadsden City High on Thursday afternoon for a conference on keeping children safe from sports injuries.

“You’ve got a social dynamic that’s called sports — and the center of it is football — and there’s sort of an anecdotal environment that’s sort of not knowledge-based,” Crowe said. “What you have to do is put more knowledge into something that has to do with the welfare of our kids.”

Crowe said the first step toward the solution is not making sports all about competiveness from the jump. Competiveness leads to specialization and then overuse injuries, he said.

“The constant wear and tear of the same movement isn’t good,” JSU head athletic trainer Eric Johnson said. “When we were young you went from football to basketball to baseball. While that’s a load on the body, you’re using different muscle groups and body parts.”

While overuse injuries and heat illnesses were discussed, one of the biggest topics was about concussions.

“The problem comes in 18 and under and the biggest problems come when you get into rural areas. That’s where maybe the education of the coach isn’t what it is everywhere else,” Crowe said. “Athletic trainers should be everywhere, but they’re not. Coaches should have the right training, but they don’t. You’ve got a problem and education needs to take care of it. That’s why Jacksonville State is involved.”

Crowe also didn’t shy away from talking about the NCAA's new emphasis on its targeting rule, which expands the definition of what constitutes a defenseless player. Hitting a defenseless player above the shoulder pads can earn an ejection and a 15-yard penatly. While players and coaches around the control have criticized the rule, Crowe said the emphasis is good.

“I think the fundamental part of not targeting head-to-head contact is important and they have to keep some things that are happening from happening,” he said. “How well the call does in a competitive environment is going to be interesting, but the rule is well-intended and needs to be there.

“I think it’s probably the only way you’re going to change the behavior. ESPN playing highlights of big hits is affecting 12-year-old kids. Don’t think it’s not programming kids to thinking if they make that kind of hit, then they’ll get on ESPN.”

Johnson said that with big hits occurring every weekend in thousands of games, concussions can put a player’s life in jeopardy if they aren’t treated correctly. Second-impact syndrome, which he said is rarely mentioned by the media, is rare but real.

“It occurs after an initial concussion is ignored or hidden and after a hit the second time the brain starts to swell and you’ve got a 50 percent mortality rate,” Johnson said. “That means you flip a coin whether they live or die.”

Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star
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