On Saturday, Louisville bounced back from its disappointing Dec. 14 home loss to Drexel with a commandingly easy win over Gardner-Webb. In the process, we learned three things:
1. Rick Pitino will in fact coach the Puerto Rico national team next summer, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal's Rick Bozich. (This is a great move for Puerto Rico, which gets a name figure to lead its improving national program, and a great move for Pitino, who gains entry to a potentially bountiful recruiting landscape.)
2. Louisville guard Elisha Justice suffered a concussion in the win over Gardner-Webb.
3. Rick Pitino doesn't think much of concussions.
Commenting on Justice's injury after the game (video of which you can see here), Pitino was clearly less than thrilled with the modern standards governing concussion safety. In fact, he seems downright dismissive:
"It's the seventeenth concussion we've had this year," Pitino said. "I've been coaching now 35 years. I've seen maybe 5 concussions in 35 years. The new thing is everybody has a concussion. If you walk out and slightly brush the door, you have a concussion. That's the way it is today."
Without getting all soapbox-y, it's important to note that this is, unfortunately, the exact wrong attitude to take in regards to concussions. In the past -- over the course of Pitino's career, in fact -- we didn't know much about head injuries suffered during athletic activity. Only recently, as the NFL and college football have responded to growing public concern about the effects of concussions on players both in the short- and long-term, have people started treating head injuries with the seriousness they require.
In the past, coaches sent woozy players back onto the field. Players hid the full effects of their injuries to avoid being branded as "soft." The tough-guy culture that dominates sports caused players to blackout in the game, go to the sideline for a drink, and come right back as though their brain was perfectly functional. We know how bad that is now, and most everyone -- leagues, conferences, trainers, players and coaches -- have adapted their behavior in kind. This has been much more noticeable in football than in basketball, of course. But concussions happen everywhere, in every sport, and they're no less serious if they happen on the floor rather than the field.
In other words, it's bad form to complain about the increased frequency of reported concussions. Would you complain that, "these days," people wash their hands too much? Or that they wear their seatbelts too often?
Concussions aren't happening more than ever. It's just that we know about them now. As always, knowledge is a good thing. And, frankly, Pitino should know better.