NASCAR announced about a week ago that it’s going to make head examinations mandatory for all of its national level drivers prior to the start of the 2014 season. Actually, the sanctioning body is going to require drivers to have baseline testing done before the start of the season to have the results of that testing on hand as a comparison tool throughout the season to help diagnose and treat possible concussions. For the most part, the mandate has been met with rave reviews. But not everyone approves.
Among those against this baseline testing is reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski. Of course there’s a saying that goes something like, “Opinions are like a**holes; everyone has one.” And, of course, everyone is entitled to their various opinions, but after hearing and reading some of Keselowski’s quotes on the matter, I have to wonder if maybe he should be one of the first in line to get his head examined.
But seriously, here is some of what Keselowski has said over the last week relating to this baseline testing:
“It’s just another subjective field for doctors that don’t understand our sport.”
And here’s another Keselowski gem:
“This is not the field for doctors. Let them play in their arena and I’ll play in mine.”
Really?!? Not sure that I would consider my health and well-being play, exactly.
I have to admit, though, I kind of understand Keselowski’s stance — although I don’t agree with it.
Judging by some of his other statements on the matter, Keselowski doesn’t seem to have an understanding of exactly what these baseline tests entail. He’s concerned that doctors will make a judgement call on how quickly a driver is able to figure out the answer to a question or problem, or maybe even the answer said driver comes up with. He also admitted that he has never taken the test.
Maybe to make sure he understands fully exactly what the test is like, he should actually take one before passing judgement. Again, he did admit that he’s never taken the test.
One driver who has taken the test is NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt’s concussion at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last October is credited with being, at least, a major factor in the decision by NASCAR to mandate the baseline testing. Earnhardt, through his experience, is in favor of the decision.
Judging by at least one of Earnhardt’s comments on the matter, maybe Keselowski has the wrong idea about what the whole testing process is like.
“It’s not two plus two equals four, but well, you chose three, you’re out,” Earnhardt explained. “There’s no right or wrong answers. It’s a test that gives you an image of how someone thinks, how quickly they make decisions, how they rationale. It’s not really a test of what’s the capital of North Carolina. There’s not a grade.”
So, going on what someone who has actually taken the test has said about it, I’m thinking that maybe Keselowski has the wrong idea. Maybe he’ll change his tune after actually taking the test. After all, he’s going to have to do it whether he likes it or not.
By the way, here’s another Keselowski gem:
“Doctors don’t understand our sport. They never have and they never will. Doctors aren’t risk takers. We are. That’s what makes our sport what it is and when you get doctors involved you water down our sport. I’m trying to be open-minded to the possibility that they can help us, but past experience says no.”
Okay, I’ll agree that at least some doctors don’t understand NASCAR. And, to me, that’s okay. But I do still take them seriously when it comes to my health. Maybe that’s just me. Also, I’m wondering what exactly he’s referring to as this past experience. Something to ponder, I guess.
Also, I’m guessing most of the safety innovations in the sport over the years could be traced back to some doctor’s diagnosis somewhere along the way. You know, safety innovations like helmets, head-and-neck restraints, SAFER barriers, firesuites, etc. Should drivers have a choice there or are those mandates by some clueless doctor making a judgement call? Actually, now that I’ve mentioned it, there isn’t a specific rule requiring helmets in NASCAR. Pretty sure I remember Tony Stewart bringing that up several years ago. Best I can remember, NASCAR’s response to that one was that proper head-and-neck restraint wear requires a helment and the HANS device is required. So, I guess helmets weren’t actually required in the 1990s and prior. Oh well, I guess that’s another topic for another time.
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