INDIANAPOLIS — When the PR guy came by my table in the Super Bowl media room the other day to announce that a press conference discussing concussions and a new way to help decrease them in youth football players would begin in 45 minutes, I was hesitant to go.
I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, and I knew this kind of presser would take at least 45 minutes (at best). Then, I’d have to transcribe the tape and write a post and it was Friday of a long Super Bowl week and I was tired, and, well honestly, it seemed like kind of a hassle.
But the issue of concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy fascinates me, and so I went to hear the new ideas espoused by former Harvard football player/WWE pro wrestler Chris Nowinski, Colts center Jeff Saturday and former NFL linebacker Isaac Kacyvenski. And I was glad I went, because I wrote this piece — what I consider to be the most important story I penned all week.
But I still don’t feel like there’s much interest in stories like this. Why? Because there were about six or seven reporters in the room for the presser. Do you know how much press is here this week? Thousands and thousands from all around the world. The fact only six or seven thought this concussions announcement was newsworthy represents the public’s interest in this matter. Players, I think, don’t care much about this issue, and neither do the fans.
When I walked in the small conference room on the first floor of the JW Marriott about two minutes before the start time, the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke — who penned a fantastic column — told me that when he showed up and nobody else was around, he thought he might be the only journalist to cover the event. No, eventually, I walked in and so did the Boston Globe and the Associated Press and the Toronto Sun and USA Today.
There might have been a few others. After Nowinski made his opening statement, here’s what I asked (and I think this might be the biggest problem with the concussion discussion): It seems that not many people care about this issue; are you fighting a perception battle to get people to care?
“The awareness of the last five years has exploded, but it’s certainly not where it needs to be,” he said.
The question I have: will it ever?