Random Thoughts – Bad Publicity

3 Feb

Bad publicity is bound to happen in today’s media crazed, technology driven age.  With anonymous blogs and thousands of on-line and traditional media authors, somewhere, sometime, somehow, someone is going to write an article bashing the profession of athletic training.   Here is one recent example of an author bashing the profession.  In the article, Paul Carpenter gives us his opinion on recent concussion laws and on athletic trainers:

That brings us to the other news story about the protection of heads during sports activities. Last week, we read about legislation — co-sponsored by state Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh Valley — that supposedly makes it harder for high school football coaches to send a player back into a game after he’s had his bell rung.

The story said the bill “would require student athletes who suffer concussions to get clearance from a physician before returning to competition.”

It was reported that Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association rules now require that student athletes with concussions must “get clearance from a physician before returning to competition.” But Browne said his legislation is needed to turn such rules into law and apply them to club sports and intramural activities.

My first reaction was to be supportive.

Then I took a look at his actual bill, which sets requirements to get qualified clearance before a student with a concussion is sent back into action by a coach. That clearance, it says, can come from a physician, a psychologist, or an athletic trainer.

A trainer? In some schools, trainers are nothing but flunkies for coaches, some of whom are willing to do anything to win.

Of course, that last line has ATs all over the country a bit cranky.  My first reaction was to post a response to the article and really let everyone know how bad an article it was.  It was full of opinions that reveal the author’s ignorance of athletic trainers, athletic training and concussions.  His “evidence” presented was nothing more than anecdotes and poor logical reasoning.  Any true newspaper reporter would have done just a little bit of research on the subject of concussions and athletic trainers.

So, how should an AT respond to such bad publicity?

First response should be to contact your state athletic trainers association and/or the National Athletic Trainers Association.  In this particular case, since I am part of the PATS Public Relations Committee, I emailed the other committee members and we discussed a plan of action the next day via conference call.  With social media, websites and email, it is very easy these days to directly contact the NATA or your state representatives with concerns.  Many ATs post these articles on the Facebook status or Tweet it for response.  Word can spread quickly to mobilize action.

Secondly, do not respond to anything for at least 12 hours.  Let your emotions cool off for a short time and then contemplate a response.  In the example article, spouting off hatred toward the author would prove his point wouldn’t it?  I was upset that he didn’t see ATs as professional, so acting unprofessionally furthers his agenda and hurts my cause.

The third action is to decide whether a rebuttal is even necessary.  Was the article written so poorly that anyone who reads it would know that the writer doesn’t know what he is talking about? Sometimes there is just no reasoning with stupid.  As Forest Gump said “Stupid is a stupid does”.

Last, if you decide that a response is needed, take the time to write out a professional response.  The tone should be civil and any attacks should be aimed towards the words written and not the author.  Don’t just sent the response to the author, who knows if they will even read it.  Take the time to find out the editor and any and all higher ups that you possibly can and send them the email as well.  The goal is to get them all talking in a positive nature about what was written.

Overall, don’t get upset at bad publicity and fly off the handle in writing a response.  Use the opportunity to promote the profession towards others who may read the article.

3 Responses to “Random Thoughts – Bad Publicity”

  1. Dustin Fink February 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    Sorry brother I think I broke all of your rules… However I have politely called him and asked him for an interview…

  2. For Athletic Trainers by an Athletic Trainer February 3, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    I would bet he would love to be interviewed for your website and maybe that would be a great way to educate him. Stroke his ego a bit to butter him up.


  1. Bad Publicity – Follow Up « promotetheprofession - February 8, 2011

    […] link posted on Facebook from an ATC in Texas just minutes after it was published online.  I also blogged about the article and handling bad publicity the next […]

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