Trying to change the culture of concussions, the Newhouse School launched a pilot program, teaching students how to recognize a concussion and the right way to report it. 

He got his ‘bell rung,’ ‘she’s tough, she’ll get back in the game’ — things we’ve all heard or said after watching a player go down on the field. Now the Newhouse School is hoping to change our mindset. 

“How are we covering those brain injuries live, and we’ve been doing it wrong for so long,” said Olivia Stomski, Director of Newhouse Sports Media Center. 

The first ever pilot program at the Newhouse School, put together by the Concussion Legacy Foundation Media Project, teaches journalism students about respect, responsibility, and accuracy. 

Taking the workshop as a graduate student and an athlete, Isis Young knows first-hand what it’s like to see yourself go down over and over again in a replay. “You have to have respect for these athletes that are day in and day out sacrificing their bodies,” she said.  

“At the end of the day, people are playing sports and they’re getting seriously hurt,” said Daniel Booth, a graduate student studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism. “That has implications that go on for the rest of their lives.” Implications Professor Stomski wants her students to know, before getting on the sideline. 

“We don’t have time to look up a protocol, we don’t have time to think about what we’re saying,” Stomski said. Which is why she’s teaching her students what not to say, and above all, how to be sensitive.

“One of the analysts, and I won’t say his name cause he’s one of my favorites, said ‘you know if I had a concussion in the finals, I’d just go to RiteAid and grab some aspirin,’ and that’s just total disrespect,” said Young.

“Who’s at home watching, is it his pregnant wife that’s freaking out wondering if her husband is still alive, is it his mom?” said Stomski. 

All things Stomski wants her students to keep in mind, so we all change the way we react to injuries, and put the player’s needs before the game’s.  

“It doesn’t matter how tough you are, you may not get up,” said Young. “Or you may get up and be changed and different for the rest of your life.” 

The three hour Concussion Reporting Workshop will be offered again in the Spring, in the Television Play-By-Play Course, the Sports Production Course, and the Sports Reporting Course taught by our very own Sports Director, Steve Infanti.