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Peter Nowak's dismissing of concussions is part of the problem

On Tuesday evening, pages from former Philadelphia Union coach Peter Nowak's lawsuit were revealed on Twitter. His attitude toward concussions hit close to home for one of our writers.'s Jonathan Tannenwald obtained over 200 pages from Peter Nowak's lawsuit against the Philadelphia Union, and one paragraph that stood out to me was Peter Nowak's treatment of players with concussions.  According to the file, Nowak "call a player 'pussy' for having a concussion". Nowak also would not allow players to miss game or practice time for concussions, calling them weak for not being able to play through a concussion.

What is a concussion exactly? Many of us hear about it on SportsCenter or in medical journals and assume it to mean a bump on the head. Sadly, many people do not know what it really is. A concussion occurs when you hit your head or if your body is jolted too suddenly. It is a brain injury that can cause extreme headaches, loss of consciousness, vomiting, slurring of words, delayed reactions and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination. Once a person has a concussion, that person will always be more vulnerable to concussions and the long-term affects, such as frequent migraines or early onset vertigo.

Nowak's comments stood out to me because I had to stop playing soccer all together due to concussions. In eighth grade I had my first diagnosed concussion in a friendly game of dodge ball, and my only fear at that time was that I would not be able to play in my soccer game that evening.  I should have feared of the long-term affects concussions have if treated improperly. I did not follow the recovery protocol to the full extent, and was practicing again two days later.  Over the next two years I had two more diagnosed concussions - and many more that were not diagnosed. Due to all of the head trauma I had received, I had to stop playing soccer for the first time in over 10 years. I thought that was the worst of my problems, but eventually I realized that I had postconcussion syndrome, where I was subjected to frequent migraines, dizziness and inability to concentrate. This kept me out of school for weeks at a time and in constant pain. Its been about three years since my last concussion and I still feel the affects every day, dealing with migraines and attempting to focus during college lectures.

All this being said, I found it disparaging that a professional coach would hold concussed players to the same level as healthy and fit players, despite the internal battle that is concussion recovery. I'm still angry that concussions are not taken seriously in professional sports and that an athlete is "cured" after a week, when the reality is that doctors are just endangering athletes to have another concussion - and possibly ruin their life. Nowak disregarding concussion recovery protocol and making light of player's injuries is despicable and in my opinion, he should be the one being sued.

To see more from Peter Nowak's lawsuit file, Click Here