Christoph Kramer played with a concussion, and nobody cried "Personal Responsibility!"
Unless you live under a rock, you know that last Sunday was the final match World Cup soccer game, Germany vs Argentina. Since my Husband is South American, this was a big deal in my house. We all crowded around the tv, watching.
In the last minute before the game started, Germany's original infielder was replaced by a relative newcomer, Christoph Kramer. He played for about 31 minutes of the game. He can't remember most of it. About 17 minutes into the game, Kramer got hit in the head by Argentina's Ezequiel Garay. The blow knocked him to the ground, unconscious. When he finally came to, FIFA trainers checked him out...and let him continue to play for another 15 minutes. Only when Kramer started staggering in his place, dazed, unable to keep himself steady, did they finally call the order to get him to stop playing and take him out of the game. They had to escort him off the field. He couldn't walk in a straight line.
Now here's the funny thing about this. In not one of thearticlesI'veread—not one—is Kramer blamed for continuing to play those last 15 minutes. Every article, everyone interviewed, agrees that Kramer is not the one at fault here. The ones at fault are the trainers, the coach, and FIFA. There is not one cry of "Personal Responsibility."
Which is interesting, because Kramer could have refused to play. Yes, he was knocked unconscious, and once he came to, he was dazed and confused...but he obviously had enough faculty to answer fundamental questions and make basic choices. No matter what the trainers told him, he had the choice of refusing to play after that. Nobody was holding a gun to his head. He could have told them all to go fuck themselves, that he wasn't going to risk permanent brain injury, and just flat out refused. He didn't do that. Why not?
It's easy to understand why not. He trusted the trainers to know what they were doing. He trusted his coaches to do right by him. He trusted the people in power over him to take care of him. He was also under a lot of pressure. This was his chance to play the big leagues, the World Cup; he didn't want to screw that up. He didn't want to disappoint the spectators, look weak, get blamed for a bad game. He was probably also afraid if he made a big stink about his injury, the team would never want him to play again, and they would cancel his contract. He was addled, probably flustered, afraid to disappoint, afraid to stop. So the bottom line is, yes, he could have refused to play, but expecting him to have done so, expecting a player to make those kinds of decisions under those kinds of conditions, is decidedly unreasonable.
Do you see where I'm going with this?
In BDSM, when a Top and bottom negotiate a play scene, both need to be honest. Both have a responsibility to lay on the table what they can handle, what they can do, and what they know. And yes, ultimately, both have a responsibility to keep themselves (and each other) safe, even as the scene unfolds. But once the scene starts, the onus is on the Top to take responsibility for what happens to the bottom. Allowing Tops to shirk and discard this responsibility does nothing but make for dangerous play.
We cannot expect bottoms to trust their Tops to know their shit, allow themselves to enter states of impaired faculty, get beaten, get manipulated, get induced into states of terror, and then take on the mantel of "responsibility" when things to go to hell. This is how people get hurt. This is how we start to lose respect for Tops. This is how we corrupt the game.
Five years ago, D.C. United defender Bryan Namoff suffered a career-ending hit to the head during a soccer match. He sued his former team for allowing him to continue playing even after he complained of debilitating headaches. This is what he has to say, and I think the quote is very apt: "Oftentimes, players aren't self-aware of their issues. I thought I was fine to play...If a player is truly injured in the head or has concussion-like symptoms...he should not be put in the predicament of trying to determine whether he does feel good enough to play. We need...to manage what the most important thing is, and that's taking care of the player."