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  • Canterbury Bulldogs captain James Graham is dazed and confused over concussion

    2018 - 07.03

    Disagrees with the doctors: Bulldogs captain James Graham. Photo: Renee McKayEvery week, it is the same thing, Doctor.

    I try, I really try, not to go on and on about concussion, not to be a broken bloody record about it, but then it just gets the better of me. See, what is a bloke to do when the madness is going on all around you, the damage is so clearly being done, lives so surely ruined twenty and thirty years from now, and it is no less than a moral duty to speak out? (Most particularly when I get so many emails and tweets saying, go harder.)

    So this week let’s go to you, James Graham, Bulldogs captain and incumbent NRL hard man.

    “Why does a doctor tell me I can’t go back on?” you asked plaintively in the Tele yesterday, in reference when you are thought to be concussed. “Why can’t that be my choice?”

    I give up, James, is it because the whole freaking point of taking you off the field is because your bloody brain is bleeding, and calm knowledge is required to make the decision, not addled aggro? Might it be because in that situation you’re a danger to yourself and to others, and are in no shape to make decisions of any nature, let alone make such a crucial decision as to whether the result of this game or your future health is more important?

    Do you get that in the history of the world, no champion footballer – of which you are a prime example – has ever said, while able to stand, “You know what? I have been thinking closely about this, and I really think, for the sake of myself, my future and my family, I am going to have a spell.”

    Do you get, James, that there are issues here, far bigger than you? Can you cop it that that you either have a sane protocol to remove people with bleeding brains from the paddock, or you don’t, that if there is an asterisk next to that protocol *Unless they want to stay on, of course, in which case the league may wantonly breach its duty of care to its employees, and never have to face the consequences the whole thing would be hopeless?

    Do you get that you are in the frontshop window of a game played by tens of thousands, including kids, and as you behave, so will they, that just as the NRL has a legal duty of care to you, you have a moral duty of care to them?

    Do you understand that when you are seen to brush off the trainers and stay on, come what may – as you did most notably last year, against Melbourne in round 4, both of those duties are breached, even as you help set up a damaging culture whereby tens of thousands of others, want to stay on come what may?

    Do you get that for most who suffer from repeated concussions, it is not just them who pay the price, decades from now, but their long-suffering wives and children who all too often have to deal with outbursts of violent anger, of searing depression, of being unable to work, unable to do anything much at all.

    “But this is a contact sport and things are going to happen,” you told the Tele, “We know the risks.”

    Bullshit you know the risks. Have you seen, up close, as I have the results, thirty and forty years on, when blokes who had exactly the same attitude you had, are wrecks of human beings? Have you talked to their wives and children, as I have, about the living hell they have been put through? Have you seen up close, as I have, the now withered walnuts of once healthy brains of blokes who continued to “shake it off,” “be a man,” and get on with the game, the way you think it should stay?

    You have not, because, had you, there is no way you could be so cavalier about it.

    “But does a doctor walk down the street, go into a cafe and stub out someone’s cigarette because they’re technically killing themselves?” you say. “No they don’t.”

    You’re right, they don’t, James. Because those doctors have a general duty of care to humanity, not a specific duty of care to those smokers on the streets, for which they can be sued for millions if they breach it. As to those smokers in cafes, they’re not smoking, James. The government stopped that, once it was established it was dangerous to others.

    And billions of dollars have changed hands in class actions brought by smokers themselves, when it was established that the tobacco companies kept flogging their poison even though totally aware of what it was doing to them.

    And of course, we have seen the same class actions brought by NFL players, who have successfully sued their employers because, even though aware of the dangers, they took insufficient steps to minimise them.

    Now, the NRL, the ARU, the AFL and even FFA are equally aware of the dangers of concussion in a manner they never were before, and legally must act to minimise the dangers, or face exactly the same action.

    And yes, I am aware of the column written by Phil Gould in these very pages on Wednesday saying such a class action will never happen here, because all that can be done has been done, but I strongly disagree.

    But for now, take the point. It ain’t just about you.

    Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲美睫培训学校.

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