This week’s Hooked Till the Credits is an interesting one because it’s not focused on a sports documentary, but a news report. Outside the Lines aired a piece yesterday about Indiana University failing its injured student athletes and I was gripped from the opening to the ending of the piece.
The report started out with focusing on Indiana’s football program and the culture the head coach created surrounding injured athletes, meaning they were treated like outsiders to the team and the athletic trainers didn’t want to tell the head coach about players injuries. The focus of the report, Nick Carovillano, a practice squad player who herniated two disks in his back. Carovillano tried multiple times to find out what was wrong through the training staff, but they kept saying that there was nothing seriously wrong and that forced Carovillano to seek out an independent doctor who finally told him just how bad his injury was.
What shocked me the most about this is that the medical staff actually let the head coach dictate how they treated players, they are supposed to put the athletes care first and make sure that they are giving the athletes the best care possible because not doing so can result in life long effects.
The university’s answer to the issues Carovillano brought up was to fire the football coach, yet do nothing with the medical staff. Yes, it was the HC’s fault because he’s the one that cultivated the culture that led to the medical staff not properly doing their jobs. But the medical staff should be held accountable as well, they willingly gave substandard treatment to athletes. The appropriate action would be to completely clear house and bring in people who understand they are to put the athlete first and have the backbone to stand up to the coaches that don’t give injured athletes the right treatment.
Instead the university gave Andy Hipskind a job in the university in hopes that that would hold him to a higher accountability instead of being a third party contractor with the university. In what universe does this move make sense? Paula Lavigne, who reported the story, says in the piece that in the case of Kaitlyn Beck who greatly injured her back while rowing for IU, nobody on the medical staff including Hipskind, told her to stop rowing after she complained about severe pain in her back. With her pain being ignored for as long as it was, Beck now has irreversible damage that will affect her the rest of her life, including her back now not being strong enough for her to have children. This lack of concern should have been an immediate firing of everyone involved, instead Hipskind is essentially promoted and Beck is let with lingering effects of her injuries.
This OTL deeply troubled me because the medical staff at the university is in charge of making sure that injured athletes, who are in the prime of their playing careers, are not suffering injuries that will linger throughout their adult lives. They are in charge of making sure that coaches aren’t treating them like outsiders, which can have negative mental effects on their recovery and their long term mental health. Yet in the IU case, they couldn’t even manage to make sure every athlete was being taken care of and given the best care possible, which includes being included in their teams activities and taking proper time off of practice and weight training.
I highly doubt that IU is the only university that has this problem, considering the pressure put on athletics programs to be the best they can be so that they can make the most money possible for their respective universities. But hopefully they see this report and realize just how dangerous letting a culture like this thrive in their program can be to the university and potential recruiting later on.
The whole report can be found here and I highly suggest that everyone read/watch this report.