It is possible to argue that Dr. Joseph Maroon is a low-value target in the national sports concussion story. I would disagree with such an argument, given Maroon’s tentacles into so many aspects of the story, his history of lies, and the fact that his ImPACT concussion management product is front and center in the changes filtering down to high school and youth football programs. But it is possible.
Anyway and unfortunately, that is not the argument of Alan Schwarz of The New York Times. Schwarz quotes Maroon as an expert, with a straight face and without sharing with his readers the background of the doctor’s deep participation in a generation of National Football League experts’ false statements about and denial of concussion syndrome. The Times also has not shed light on the controversy over whether neurocognitive testing systems like ImPACT are very – or even at all – effective.
All this should trouble anyone who would like the American media, led by The Times, to succeed in promoting public understanding of what has caused and what can fix the pandemic of traumatic brain injuries in our sports and entertainment. Equally troubling is how the The New Yorker (which likewise swallows Maroon as a credible authority) has used editorial real estate to quote Maroon praising Schwarz.
On May 27, Schwarz said in an email to me that the Maroon angle of the concussion investigation is a non-issue for “reasons” of which I am “totally unaware.”
Yesterday, in search of those reasons, I queried Times management.
“As a matter of policy, we don’t comment publicly on our editorial decision making,” Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told me. But didn’t Schwarz, in his unsolicited email to me, already do just that?
More importantly, don’t Times readers need something better than the newspaper’s current paint-by-numbers campaign to hang a wide-ranging national health crisis on the football helmet industry?