Alex Smith is most likely not going to play in the Super Bowl and his future team is uncertain. Any way you interpret all of these stories the point is he was right to not risk his health. The question is how that choice will be interpreted and if that interpretation will drive athletes to play through a concussion for the glory? It’s a tough question.
When ever a young athlete is hurt we as athletic trainers hold them out to “be safe” and follow it up with “if it was the Super Bowl we would tape you up and see what you could do”. Now that takes a whole new meaning. A hurt ankle and knee can be dealt with but the brain is a different story. Yes the glory is great, but what does it matter if you become too mentally incapacitated to remember or enjoy it? This is why concussion policy is so heavily debated. It is an injury that an outsider cannot see and could have a difficulty detecting; no imaging test can detect it either. If you have never experienced one or its lasting effects it is difficult to understand.
Another barrier to this issue are the coaches. For them concussion where just a ding so for right or wrong it was not a big deal, you “sucked it up”. These dogmas can be hard to change, most do but not always. These are the people that need to convey the message to athletes along with athletic trainers and doctors. Athletic careers are short, life is long.