Change in physical exam policy met with resistance

Until now, a physical examination record having occured within a year of the first day of a season allowed student athletes to play for the entire season. Starting this year, however, this is no longer allowed.

The athletics department now requires student athletes to have physicals that have occured within a year of the final day of a season. The consequence of not meeting this requirement is the exclusion of the student from participation in any physical activities until the new physical is issued.

In response to the new rule, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Mass General Hospital have been offering free physicals on Saturday mornings in the fall for the benefit of student athletes.

According to Athletic Director Pete Rittenberg, this change is due to increased injuries, especially head injuries, over the past few years. He added that this change in the policy will enable the athletics department to keep the medical profile on student athletes more current.

“I don’t have the empirical evidence now, but it’s tighter,” Rittenberg said. “It’s more work for us, but we haven’t found it overburdening. But people are responding well to it. We don’t have to chase, chase, chase.”

Although student athletes and families have been following the new policy, some student athletes have been complaining about the change.

“I don’t support it,” said senior Chris Suazo, a football player. “A lot of people didn’t have their paperwork because they had assumed that the policy was still the same, and people like myself had to sit out the first or so practice.”

Senior Kervin Hilaire, a field hockey player, agreed with Suazo.

“If I’m in my prime of whatever sport I’m playing, I do not want to stop mid-season,” Hilaire said. “It kills the momentum.”

Hilaire also said that it is difficult to get another physical because his doctor is always busy, and therefore it is hard to make another appointment.

Junior Brigitte Aftandilian, another field hockey player, agreed that this new policy could seem “annoying” to many student athletes. However, she also sees the bright side of this change.

“I can definitely see where they are coming from,” Aftandilian said. “It is helping them to pay more attention to student athletes and their health and medical issues.”

Despite the student athletes’ complaints, the new policy will remain in place.

“It’s for the benefit of the student athletes,” Rittenberg said. “The point of the physical is to be proactive and maybe discover that something is going on. It’s a part of everybody’s responsibility.”

Andrea Kim can be contacted at [email protected].