Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney mocked the video of his knockout during his celebration against Spurs Getty Images

Misunderstanding of head injuries has perhaps been the overriding theme of the 2014-15 sporting season. Phil Hughes, Thibaut Courtois, and George North have all been victims of head blows that have been hugely contrasting but equally as serious and yet this is a subject when broached is accompanied by a lack of education and appreciation of the risks involved. We really are talking life and death.

Therefore, any criticism of the worth of story which The Sun on Sunday published on 15 March that reported a video of England and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney being knocked to the floor, very likely unconscious, during casual sparing with former team-mate Phil Bardsley, is both startling and concerning.

As one of the biggest sportspeople in Britain, skipper of his country, and one of highest-paid players in domestic football, much of the life of Rooney is in the public eye and in their interest. If the health of this leading competitor is at any stage compromised, those who support him, are represented by him, and pay his wages are entitled to know, particularly when it comes as a result of due negligence.

The invasion of Rooney's privacy, via the publishing of a video of some light-hearted sparing with Bardsley filmed in a private house, has drawn significant criticism among reporters given what is seen as trivial footage of the former Everton forward being knocked to the floor.

wayne rooney
The punch left Wayne Rooney on the floors with his eyes closed for several seconds Getty

Leading that disapproval was United boss Louis van Gaal, who labelled the world as "twisted" that he was even having to address the issue of Rooney's boxing incident. The reality is the England striker was given two days off around the time of the episode on 22 February, after the 2-1 loss to Swansea City.

A leading trauma and orthopaedic surgeon has said Rooney should have at least undergone an MRI scan following the blow, regardless of whether he was indeed knocked-out or not.

Journalists on the Sky Sports programme The Sunday Supplement claimed Rooney could have died had he hit his head on a table in close proximity to where he fell. But these comments amount to the little concern over Rooney's condition.

To reinforce the ignorance toward the severity of head injuries, the much-lauded reaction to Rooney's celebration of United's third goal in the 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, where he mimicked throwing punches before falling backwards to the floor, is hugely worrying.

Rooney, who has questioned the publishing of the video rather than the legitimacy of it, has helped glorify and undermine the incident, while the boxing puns and jokes from the media are also distasteful, particularly in the wake of the death of Australian boxer Braydon Smith, who passed away two days after losing consciousness following his 10-round defeat to John Moralde.

Rooney's position as a modern-day role model may in the eyes of many be unfathomable, given the controversies of his private life, but his reputation as a leader for his country and one of the biggest clubs on the planet means he continues to be looked up to. It is a standing which is becoming increasingly wafer-thin.