Ohio State University (OSU) football player, Kosta Karageorge, was found dead Sunday in Columbus after being missing since Wednesday. Karageorge was a defensive lineman for the team, and had recently been suffering the effects of multiple concussions. He contacted his mother prior to going missing and apologized for the “embarrassment’ of him suffering from the condition as he was. He had struggled with periods of being confused as a result of the multiple head traumas. His body was found in a dumpster near campus, and according to preliminary reports, his death was a result of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Sources say that the body was identified from the tattoos on his body. A handgun was found inside of the dumpster with the body.
Concussions and the medical issues surrounding them, in particular with respect to athletes suffering injuries on the field, have become a hot-button topic of late. A potential settlement between the NFL and the Players Association is in arbitration, and the NFL has announced new protocols for handling head injuries on the field as well. These new “concussion management protocols” are a direct result of the tentative agreement reached to pay former players with concussion-related injuries damages in the hundreds of millions of dollars. An entire new lexicon has been created to address the issue of head injuries and how they will be dealt with going forward on the field of play.
The entire culture of the league has been impacted by concussions and the tragedies which continue to be reported in players who have lived for years with the effects of multiple head traumas. There is an entire new system in place which will change the way that players will be handled both on the field, and with follow-up treatment. It will involve an entirely new vocabulary for everyone involved to be required to learn and adhere to.
The fact that this OSU player tragically lost his life, possibly as a result of multiple concussions affecting his mental state, will likely play into the debate considerably in coming weeks. College sports cannot help but follow suit with respect to instituting new procedures in order to keep head injuries at the forefront of consideration during games and practices. Aside from the liability issues involved for the colleges and universities, there are other concerns. Continuing to lose young lives to what many feel are preventable problems, or at least concussions which could be managed better at the point of injury, will present a public relations nightmare for schools which will put its own kind of pressure on the schools to reform.
Kosta Karageorge took his own life in a dumpster near the OSU campus, thinking he was an embarrassment to his family because of the effects of the injuries sustained playing football. He suffered confusion and considerable mental stress which led him to take a walk on Tuesday night and never come back. Though clearly not a typical outcome for a healthy college football player, the story is being told in different forms at both the college and professional level a little too often for officials to ignore. The NFL has been forced to address the issue in light of lawsuits and other pressures. The NCAA and other college bodies will likely have little choice but to follow suit before long.
Commentary By Jim Malone
Image courtesy of shortstopeleven – Flickr License