Yesterday we covered the reception up-tempo offensive coaches had to the NCAA's proposed 10-second rule. Predictably, it wasn't pretty. And that's understandable. After all, this rule cuts at the heart of the way those coaches do business.
But perhaps the most vitriolic and dumbfounded responses have come from those who aren't affected at all by the rule, athletic trainers. Turns out, they're not big fans of using their livelihood as a political forcefield as a means to curb a competitive disadvantage.
"If you want to do it for a competitive advantage, then come out and say you're doing it for a competitive advantage," said Arizona head athletic trainer Raydn Cohen, chair of the college committee of the National Athletic Trainers' Association. "Don't say it's a safety issue because right now we don't have any data about this. None."
Jon Solomon of AL.com reached out to the medical community, and the response was muddied. Most agreed that a reduction of plays would thereby reduce the opportunity for injury and that a tired player is more likely to be injured, but all agreed there was no conclusive data to support a necessity for change.
"From the outside looking in, it looks like they're using the health and safety initiative to pass it this year because that's the only way to pass it," said Harvard head athletic trainer Brant Berkstresser, a member of the NCAA Competitive Safeguards Committee. "That being said, I don't think there's any harm for the student-athlete. The longer players are on the field or play a set amount of plays longer than the previous norm, you certainly can make a theoretical assumption that would increase the risks of injury."
Here's another, from Purdue biomedical engineer Thomas Talvage.
"This did not even come up at our task force meeting two weeks ago," Talavage said. "That's why I say I don't think their motivation behind this is necessarily the head."
If coaches truly wanted to make the game safer for defensive players, Talvage offered a sure-fire solution. "However, we have to keep in mind the hits they take in the game may only represent less than 50 percent of the total number of hits they take on a given week," he said. "A bigger benefit may be schools cutting down contact practices to twice a week."
"It's the boy who cried wolf," Cohen concluded. "If you keep crying wolf about safety, safety, safety, yet it isn't about safety, when you really want to implement something for safety, it won't get done and that will be a tragedy."