Originally posted on FishDuck.com:
Injuries and Access: It’s Time for an Injury Report
Reported by Nathan Roholt on September 17, 2012 inFishWrap, FishWrap Archive | 1 Comment
There is a routine for fans to deal with injuries. The play ends, everyone goes back to their side of the line of scrimmage, and one player remains on the turf. We know the perceived severity of injury based on how much the player writhes in agony, or worse, how long he remains motionless.
The more members of the team’s staff that runs out onto the field, the worse it appears to be. If we see members of the opposing team’s staff, then we know something is really wrong. Eventually, the player is helped off the field, either under their own power, or by cart, and removed from the field of play.
Once play resumes, fans do their best to forget about the injury they just witnessed on the field. After the game inquiries are made about the status of the player, and either the fans’ worst fears are realized, or collective relief washes over.
Unfortunately, it is the policy of the Oregon football program to not comment or report on injury specifics, though eventually details usually leak out. After the Fresno State game, Chip Kelly addressed the topic by telling reporters:
“We don’t talk about it, ever. We’re going next man in, if we have to go to next man in. That’s how we’ve been, I think it’s helped us as team, and we’ll always continue to do that.”
Which is what made John Boyett’s career-ending injury that much more confusing and difficult for Oregon fans. Instead of having a “five stages of grief”-level of processing, the announcement of Boyett’s absence in the Fresno State game was radioed into the press box with less emotion than a price check at Safeway. “John Boyett has been removed from the lineup today.”
That was the first acknowledgement, and the closest thing to a formal announcement, that the career of arguably the greatest safety in the history of Oregon Football was over.
The news of his season-ending knee surgery was announced not by the university, but rather by Boyett’s hometown newspaper. It was a huge blow for the Ducks, who lost their most seasoned defensive player; one who served as an anchor and a safety net for an underrated unit, and a loss that occurred completely without any understanding of what led to it.
Contrast that against Josh Huff’s injury in the same game. As Huff went to the turf in the first quarter, Oregon fans knew to brace for the worst. His injury may have stunned the panic-stricken Autzen crowd, but given his injury history, it wasn’t entirely surprising either. The shot of Huff on crutches later in the game seemed to confirm fans’ worst fears.
Huff would return to practice, although limited, the following Monday. Meanwhile Boyett would not be seen on the field again. He had been durable throughout his career, having missed only a single game – Missouri State in 2011, and that was done as a rest/precautionary measure. There were no answers, nothing that helped fans process Boyett’s absence. It was just “next man in.”
While it may be unpleasant for fans to not have injuries disclosed by Oregon’s program, at least the line in the sand has always been clear: no access to practice and no discussion of injuries. The same can’t be said for the Ducks’ current arch-enemies – Washington and USC, both of whom implemented far more draconian measures for their reporters this week.
The Huskies implemented a new policy of not discussing injuries, which is similar to policies elsewhere in the Pac-12. What is not similar to other programs’ policies is that media members who cover practice will lose their access if they report on any injuries.
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