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Michael Schumacher's Family, Handlers Missing Chance to Manage Story, Help Others

Posted by Christopher Byrne on Monday, June 16, 2014 , under , , , | comments (0)



In the span of one to two weeks in one location, I met a nuclear engineer, a 15 year old high school sophomore, a 19 year old college student, a heavy equipment operator, a personal trainer, a prison guard, and a preacher.  Yes they were a disparate group, but believe it or not they shared one very tragic important trait with Formula 1 racing legend Michael Schumacher.  They all had suffered a traumatic brain injury. 

Unlike Schumacher, they were not rich or famous so they did not have a worldwide platform with a built in audience of millions to tell their stories.  And unlike Schumacher's family and handlers, they wanted to share their stories to give people hope and raise awareness about the devastation that comes with a TBI.   You see, when Schumacher was transferred to a rehabilitation facility today, his manager, Sabine Kehm, stated that his continued recovery would take place in private and that they would sue any reporters who wrote anything more about it.  This was because of all the conjecture and speculation that has been reported in all forms of media since his skiing accident last December.  Unfortunately, his manager and family have missed two golden opportunities that would have helped not only themselves, but the millions of people around the world that have suffered and survived a TBI.



The first opportunity is simple:  manage the story.  Because they have held any and all information so tightly since his accident, and plan to do so going forward, they are giving up all control of the narrative.  This means that with Schumacher's millions of fans, there was a vacuum to be filled.  Nature abhors a vacuum, so the space was filled with conjecture, speculation, and information that was flat out wrong because everyday people do not know squat about TBIs.  In fact, they probably have no idea that in the United States, more people die every year as a result of a TBI than they do of Breast Cancer.  If the Schumacher family takes control of the narrative, they can provide information as they see fit, along with explanations of what is specifically means for him.  This is important because no two brain injuries are alike, and there is no standard prognosis or predicted outcome for them.

I know what I am saying because my now 19-year old daughter was hit by an SUV when she was running on January 13, 2013.  From the very beginning, we were like the Schumachers as we did not release any information to the news media until we were ready.  And when we released it, we knew what we wanted the narrative to be about.  We were also in a period of great uncertainty as my daughter lay in a coma, not knowing if she was going to live or die, or what would happen with her life.  We debated how much information to share publicly, but we were also overwhelmed repeating the same story and information over and over again.  After a few days, we set up a Facebook page to share the story of her journey of recovery, as well as to help people understand the challenges of a TBI.

This is the second opportunity the Schumacher's have:  to help raise awareness of TBIs through Michael's story.  When people read the news today, they read that Michael was out of his coma and released from the hospital.  People were quick to scream "hurray" because they had no idea what is ahead for him and his family.  This is a message that needs to be shared loud and far.

No other person today, perhaps with the exception of former Congresswoman Gabbie Giffords or ABC New Correspondent Bob Woodruff, has the visibility of Schumacher, especially in the world of sport.  This is important because the people most susceptible to brain injuries are young and experience these injuries while physically athletic.  What better way is there for a global audience to learn the challenges faced by TBI survivors and their families?  What better way is there to reach these people to help them avoid a preventable injury? 

Granted, the Schumacher family is entitled to their privacy and I am not arguing that here.  The media and Michael's "fans" who believe they are entitled to know everything are entitled to nothing.  It his the Schumacher's story to share or not.  What I am asking the Schumacher family and Sabine Kehm to consider is what a gift it would be, for so many voices who cannot be and are not heard, to share their story and the long journey they are now undertaking.  They will be surprised at how valuable that would be for so many, many people.

So what about the people I mentioned at the beginning of this piece?  The causes of their accidents were as different as the people themselves.  The nuclear engineer and prison guard were injured in automobile accidents.  The 15 year old high school student was injured when he was playing with his father's handgun.  The 19 year old college student was shot, execution style, in a home invasion robbery.  The heavy equipment operator was crushed and had his oxygen flow cut off when the hydraulics on his equipment failed.  The personal trainer and the preacher had strokes, with the trainer's stroke possibly caused by a visit to a beauty salon.  They were all different people with different stories, but they shared a bond no one ever wants to share:  they suffered an injury that forever changed the lives of them and their families, an injury that is more common than you know.

SOME BRAIN INJURY FACTS

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, contributing to about 30% of all injury deaths.  Every day, 138 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI.  Those who survive a TBI can face effects lasting a few days to disabilities which may last the rest of their lives.  Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression).  These issues not only affect individuals but can have lasting effects on families and communities.

•In 2010, about 2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, or deaths were associated with TBI—either alone or in combination with other injuries—in the United States. 
       ◦TBI contributed to the deaths of more than 50,000 people.
       ◦TBI was a diagnosis in more than 280,000 hospitalizations and 2.2 million ED visits.  These consisted of TBI alone or TBI in combination with other injuries.

•Over the past decade (2001–2010), while rates of TBI-related ED visits increased by 70%, hospitalization rates only increased by 11% and death rates decreased by 7%. 

•In 2009, an estimated 248,418 children (age 20 or younger) were treated in U.S. EDs for sports and recreation-related injuries that included a diagnosis of concussion or TBI.
        ◦From 2001 to 2009, the rate of ED visits for sports and recreation-related injuries with a diagnosis of concussion or TBI, alone or in combination with other injuries, rose 57% among children (age 20 or younger).

Sports Illustrated Launches Fan Poll on Sports Media

Posted by Christopher Byrne on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 , under , , | comments (0)



Sports Illustrated has launched a fan poll called "Best and Worst in Sports Media."  You can make your picks for the six questions by Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET, and check back later on Wednesday when Richard Deitsch reveals the winners in his column.

Some Thoughts on the Passing Of Larry Munson

Posted by Christopher Byrne on Monday, November 21, 2011 , under | comments (0)



By the time I arrived in Athens, Georgia in 1994, Larry Munson was already 72 years old and well-ensconced as the "Voice of the Georgia Bulldogs."  Almost everyone I knew in Athens loved him.  I did not.  I could not understand how they could like this play-by-play announcer who was a clear "homer".  How could they love this true curmudgeon?  How could they love a man who at times could not even tell listeners what players were in on a play.  But something funny happened over the next few years.  Munson grew on me.

Jimmer Fredette Named 2011 Naismith Men's College Player of the Year

Posted by Christopher Byrne on Sunday, April 3, 2011 , under , | comments (0)



Jimmer Fredette has been named the 2011 Naismith Men's College Player of the Year, becoming the third Mountain West Conference (MWC) player to win the award.  Here is the full press release from the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

Maybe the NCAA Could Name The Final Four Brackets to Drive Ratings

Posted by Christopher Byrne on Monday, March 28, 2011 , under , | comments (0)



There are concerns out and about that the fact that there are no number one or two seeds left in the  upcoming Final Four could lead to lower ratings on CBS.  The Time-Warner networks (TNT, TBS, and TruTV) are out of the picture, so the public relations folks cannot play the Nielsen numbers game to show record ratings.

The 2011 Sports EMMY Award Nominations Are Here

Posted by Christopher Byrne on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 , under , , | comments (0)



The 2011 Sports Emmy Nominations are out, and the 2010 National Spelling Bee is nominated.  Really.  No kidding.  Verne Lundquist is also nominated for outstanding play-by-play, and there is a new category for "Outstanding Playoff Coverage."  The winners will be announced on Monday, May 2, 2011.

So here we go with this year's nominations...

Some First Thoughts on the First Four on TruTV

Posted by Christopher Byrne on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 , under , , , | comments (0)



I got home from work in time to catch the end of the "AT&T At the Half" on TruTV and then the second half of the scintillating battle between UNC-Asheville and Arkansas-Little Rock.  As to be expected there are pluses and minuses, and Charles Barkley has been refreshingly good.  So with that being said, here are some thoughts and observations.

Musburger, Eucker Named to Sportscasting Hall of Fame

Posted by Christopher Byrne on Monday, January 10, 2011 , under , , , , , | comments (0)



As tonight's BCS National Championship game approaches, ESPN Play-By-Play man Brent Musburger has been elected to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame, joining Bob Uecker and Bob Ryan, according to NSSA Executive Director Dave Goren. They're joined in the winners' circle by 2010 National Sportscaster of the Year Mike Tirico of ABC and ESPN and by 2010 National Sportswriter of the Year Peter King of Sports Illustrated and si.com. They will be honored, along with 110 State Sportscasters and Sportswriters of the Year during the NSSA's 52nd Annual Awards Weekend, May 14-16, 2011, in Salisbury, NC.

Additional honorees include:


NHL Announces First-Ever Rain Delay

Posted by Christopher Byrne on Friday, December 31, 2010 , under , , | comments (0)



The National Hockey League (NHL) has come to their senses and realized that you cannot safely play a hockey game when it is 50 degrees out and raining.  So the NHL and NBC Sports have announced that the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic start time will be pushed back to 8:00 PM ET on Saturday, January 1, 2011.

Here is the official announcement:

Who Was In The Truck For The Vikings Last Game at The Met?

Posted by Christopher Byrne on Monday, December 20, 2010 , under , | comments (0)



The players are complaining about the weather and conditions for tonight's Chicago Bears - Minnesota Vikings game on ESPN Monday Night Football?  What wimps!  The wind chill is only going to be -1.  When the Vikings played their last game at the Met (Metropolitan Stadium) on December 20, 1981, the wind chill was -8, and there was snow on the ground. Television Producer John Faratzis did not mind the weather though.