Bad Publicity – Follow Up

8 Feb

On February 1, 2011, Paul Carpenter wrote this opinion article about purposed concussion legislation aimed at protecting young athletes.   Of course, his complete incompetence to do even basic research on athletic trainers or trends in concussion management fired up the athletic trainers not only in PA, but across the country.  I first saw the 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 day.

Since I happen to be on the PA Athletic Trainers Society’s Public Relations Committee and we were having a conference call that very next day, I sent the link to everyone on the committee and we discussed it during the call.  The committee was highly motivated to respond and PATS did respond.  I am happy to report that the Allentown Morning Call has printed not 1 but 2 editorial responses so far in response to Mr. Carpenter’s negligent and reckless article.

The first response is from PA Senator Pat Browne who represents the Allentown Congressional District and just so happened to co-author the bill.   It is significant that a State Senator would take time out to write an article in defense of public health care issue and in defense of a public health care provider, but the incompetence of the original article demanded it.

Sen. Browne writes:

In regards to returning to play, the athletic trainer is the first line of defense in the school when it comes to an athlete being hurt. This is the person whom the athlete sees on a daily basis and talks with about his injury. Working together in a collaborative fashion, medical professionals, coaches and athletic trainers will ensure that students get back to the playing field in a safe and timely manner.

The second response if from the President of PATS, Greg Janik.  I know that the newspaper had received many responses to the OP, but no other response to it carries more weight than the President of PATS’ response.

As president of the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers’ Society, I represent nearly 3,000 certified athletic trainers and athletic training students in Pennsylvania. This is the largest number of athletic trainers of any state in the nation. Further, Pennsylvania boasts one of the highest numbers of accredited athletic training education programs — 20 — in the nation. Paul Carpenter’s column is a gross misrepresentation of athletic trainers. I found it to be irresponsible and unfounded, and the reporting to be most disturbing, particularly to say “trainers are nothing but flunkies for coaches, some of whom are willing to do anything to win.”

I have read that any publicity is good publicity, and this event in my opinion, has turned into good publicity.  Sure, PATS had to respond to not only the newspaper but also its own membership who demanded a response and that is the good to come from this – a motivated and mobilized constituency!

The NATA and PATS (in this specific situation) is only as strong as the members’ involvement.  We, as individual members of NATA, are the backbone of the organization.  It is up to us to do the groundwork.  As John F. Kennedy is quoted as saying “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

So, my fellow athletic trainers, ask not what your Association can do for you; ask what you can do for your Association!

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