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Concussion Legacy Foundation tackles media coverage of concussion

CLF worked with BT Sport on a world-first project in training staff in reporting on concussion

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The Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) is continuing its commitment to changing the way head injury and concussion is viewed in sport by introducing a world-first media training initiative into the UK. 

The CLF has worked with BT Sport on its Concussion Reporting Workshop PRO, a first-of-its-kind program to educate its team in how to report on concussion. The broadcaster involved its cricket, boxing, football and rugby reporting and production teams in the initiative. 

The workshops, part of the CLF Media Project – the first and only concussion education program designed specifically for sports media members – were presented by CLF co-founders Dr Robert Cantu and Dr Chris Nowinski, and helped to address areas including the basics of concussion, the dos and don’ts of reporting on concussion, and the importance of concussion reporting to educate hard-to-reach coaches, parents, and athletes. 

The program has been used successfully by broadcasters and journalists across the United States, and has played a key role in redefining the way concussion is reported and regarded. 

Dr Nowinski has previously spoken to NR Times about the importance of challenging the traditional approach of many media outlets in ‘glorifying’ players returning to action after head injury.

Now, through its introduction into the UK, its commitment to changing attitudes, and as a result the future for players of all levels, is increasing further still. 

“The UK is many years behind the US in terms of understanding and dealing with concussion in sport,” said Dr Adam J. White, executive director of CLF UK. 

“It is great that an organisation as influential as BT Sport is taking this step to educate their team on the proper standards for concussion coverage and shows tremendous leadership on responsible reporting. 

“Every concussion on TV is an opportunity to educate, so when a commentator highlights the importance of concussion, it reinforces to every spectator, athlete, kid, and parent why we should be taking concussions seriously.”

“Improving our understanding and research into concussion in sport is a subject that I am hugely passionate about, and whilst it is extremely important that we understand the impact in training, in the game and on our bodies, we the sports media can also play our part in ensuring that we report and describe concussion and head impacts correctly, so that our viewers understand what they are seeing on the field and the correct response,” said Ben Kay, rugby analyst for BT Sport. 

“The presentation taught us how to cover the injury while still dealing in facts, something which I would encourage all sports broadcasters to invest their time in learning about.”

CLF launched the Media Project, which includes three parts: a Concussion Reporting Certification for sports media professionals, a Concussion Reporting Workshop for sports journalism students, and the Concussion Reporting Workshop PRO for sports media outlets, in 2018. 

Sports media veterans J.A. Adande, Bob Costas, Andrea Kremer, and Olivia Stomski helped CLF create the curriculum for the Media Project and serve as advisors for the program. 

More than 140 sports media professionals are now Concussion Reporting Certified, and the Concussion Reporting Workshop has been taught in 54 classes at 24 schools in the US and UK including St. Mary’s University Twickenham and Bournemouth University.

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