From Friday night in suburban Indianapolis to Sunday afternoon in Chicago, sports medics had their hands full last weekend — with the athletes being the least of their worries.
When it was all said and done, it could be argued that those at the high school level did a better job — under much more trying conditions — than was done by those in the NFL.
Carmel High School was hosting Penn in the IHSAA Class 6A football semistate when referee Joe Calderazzo of Evansville collapsed in the second quarter. When athletic trainers from both teams reached his side, he was in apparent cardiac arrest. Immediately initiating CPR, and quickly aided by Carmel’s team physician and paramedics, they were able to resuscitate him. By the time he was placed on a stretcher, Calderazzo was waving to the crowd.
On Saturday, according to longtime Calumet Region football referee Bob Parker, Calderazzo had cardiac bypass surgery and is expected to make a full recovery.
Good news also regarding a fan at the same game who had a seizure in the stands shortly after Calderazzo went down.
However, the same cannot be said about the father of Carmel running back Shakir Paschell. Eric Paschell became ill late in the third quarter or early in the fourth and passed away shortly thereafter at a nearby hospital. Meanwhile, not knowing that his father had been stricken until the game ended, Shakir scored the game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter of Carmel’s 28-13 win.
Quite an evening for first responders, who were prepared and reacted well to the unexpected.
No saying the same for NFL decision-makers for their reaction to what was completely expected. Instead, they allowed the Bears/Ravens game to continue in the first quarter — long after a severe thunderstorm warning had been issued for Chicago by the National Weather Service.
It could be argued that the game should never have started at all and been postponed. Facing a similar forecast on June 12, the White Sox did just that. It would have made for some travel/hotel difficulties for the Ravens but they could have stayed over for a Monday night game.
At the very least, the Bears and the NFL need not have waited for the Ravens to complete a drive that ended in a field goal before clearing the field and the stands. Once that announcement was made, coaches and players took their time exiting — no example to spectators.
Once they decided to leave, though, those on the sidelines were able to egress efficiently. Meanwhile, the infinitely far more numerous fans had to wait their turn as the rain poured down, the wind whipped up, and the lightning started to strike nearby.
All’s well that ends well, I suppose. But what if the storm cell initially in question — which contained the tornado that struck downstate Illinois — had continued on its original path toward downtown Chicago?
Sure, the game resumed, but it was played thereafter in atrocious conditions which served only to shred the natural surface at Soldier Field. But the wisdom of continuing to play on failed grass surfaces in Chicago — and South Bend — is another story for another day.
John Doherty is a certified athletic trainer and licensed physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.