UF Handling Tebow Correctly

Last week I wrote about the insanity that has gripped the allegedly professional sports media with regards to Tim Tebow's status as a football player. Frankly, I'm tempted to re-submit the very same column as more and more newspapermen who would have virtually no chance of spelling neurologist continue to take strong stands on when Florida's QB should be allowed to return to the field.

I will grant the amateur medical experts this; it would probably be safer for Tim if they waited another week before he played again. Of course, it would be safer still if they took him off the field for the rest of the season and let him get a medical redshirt season and return in 2010. It would be safer still to never let him play again and force him to wear a helmet 24/7 for the rest of his life. The key issue involves how to best determine when healing is complete and no additional risk is assumed by returning to competition.

There is a safety and health risk inherent in all competitive athletics. And there is increased risk in coming back from a significant injury. That risk is rarely higher than when someone tries to return to competition after suffering a concussion. The athlete in question has to follow the best medical advice possible, and one thing we can all agree on is that advice won't be coming from sportswriters.

Florida has assembled an all-star team of medical personnel to monitor and advise Tebow. The group importantly includes an "outsider" in Dr. Mickey Collins of the sports medicine concussion program at the University of Pittsburgh who monitored Tebow through his first practice on Tuesday. Granted no one on the medical team is desperately clinging to employment in a dying industry, but why quibble over such details.

I have been asked if Tim Tebow were my son would I let him play again. Those questions obviously came from people who do not have and have never had a "child" in their early-20s. Parents are out of the "letting" business at this stage. That point aside, my answer is of course I would want my child protected at all times. I wouldn't want my child taking the hits that Tim Tebow does, but then again I didn't "want" my daughter to spend three months in Africa but she did. Kids do those things.

The decision as to when Tim Tebow plays football again will come in three stages. First he'll have to clear every medical test and continually increase his physical activity without any setbacks. Then he'll make the decision that he's ready to go – though I suspect he's already there. Then Urban Meyer will decide based on practice performances and such if he is truly "ready". I don't know if he'll play against LSU or even Arkansas. No one can accurately predict if he'll have a setback following a workout in the next few days or if he'll get injured again some time soon. However I am convinced that his return to the field will be based on scientific knowledge and facts based on testing, monitoring and evaluation.

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