I wasn’t going to write anything about this. I wanted to bite my tongue, because everyone is entitled to his own opinion. But dammit, I can’t help myself. I read an opinion piece on another Syracuse blog this morning that got me a little heated. I’m not trying to pick a fight, I’m not trying to call anyone out, but it brings up a larger point I feel like I need to address, and that’s this: just because you’re curious about something doesn’t give you any fucking right to actually know it.
The piece in question called out Syracuse for not having disclosed AJ Long’s concussion history prior to his medical disqualification this week. And look, I get that this came out of nowhere. So did Isaiah Johnson’s similar medical disqualification. No one raised much of a stink about that one, though, and I have a pretty good idea why: Isaiah Johnson wasn’t a quarterback.
I’ve seen people on message boards and social media wondering what the heck happened with AJ Long, and whipping up conspiracy theories, as this news came seemingly out of nowhere.
Except, it didn’t. It only came out of nowhere for you, the fan, or you, the blogger. You know who it didn’t come out of left field for? AJ Long. AJ Long’s family. The SU coaching staff. The SU medical staff. And you know what? That’s all that goddamn matters. None of those people owe you a fucking thing, no matter how curious you are.
What gives any of us the right to invade the medical privacy of student-athletes? Why do we feel anyone owes us private health information about 18-22 year old kids? Would knowing that AJ Long once fell out of bed and got a concussion have changed anything?
No, AJ Long’s concussions never showed up on injury reports – because they never freaking occurred around the time of actual games. Why, when AJ fell out of bed and hit his head, would Syracuse go out of its way to tell people “Oh by the way, AJ got a concussion in a non-football related incident outside of the regular season”?
NCAA student-athletes sign a waiver before the season begins that authorizes both the school and the NCAA to disclose medical information if it’s pertinent to anything in particular. This is called the Buckley Amendment, and is part of HIPAA laws. You can check out the actual waiver that student-athletes sign, if you’re really curious.
If you don’t feel like clicking on that link, let me get straight to the important part, as it concerns this issue:
“I understand that my participation and protected health information may be disclosed to, and/or used by, the NCAA, and authorized third parties to receive such information for the purpose of using injury, relevant illness and participation information collected from multiple student-athletes and institutions in a manner that does not identify myself or my school. The information is provided to NCAA committees, athletics conferences and individual schools, and NCAA-approved researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of health and safety rules and policy, and to study other sports medicine questions. Selected de-identified summary (aggregate) data also are made accessible to the general public as a service to further the general understanding of athletic injury patterns and help develop education on student-athlete health topics.”
You know what it doesn’t say in there? That the media or fans are entitled to a goddamn thing. It drives me insane when people outside of the program try to act like something simply must be amiss if a college program isn’t divulging every single injury. No one owes you anything. Just because they aren’t telling you that Player A suffered a concussion doesn’t mean the absolute best interest of Player A isn’t being pursued. Quite the contrary, actually, considering the school and the program are protecting the basic privacy rights of that student-athlete.
So please, spare me your bullshit lines about how you question the way AJ Long’s concussions were handled publicly. No one is “hiding injuries.” They’re being handled appropriately within the program, whether you know about it or not. How would the media, or the fans, knowing about AJ Long’s previous concussions have changed a single thing?
The answer is simple: it wouldn’t. So stop acting like there’s been some great injustice simply because a program decided to maintain a student-athletes medical privacy.