Head injuries in football gain attention

Injury prevention is on the NFL

On November 10, 2010

Since Austin Collie's most recent hospital run from the field and the countless annual injuries owing to the brutal game that is football, many Americans have reassessed their attitudes toward how the game should be played and how athletes and policymakers can help to prevent serious injuries in professional football.

Innovations in football helmet design manifest each year with equal enthusiasm and promise for reducing cranial injuries, yet players in professional and scholastic football are still carried off the turf in greater numbers each year.

Other long-term effects from head injuries are of major concern for the sport, as medical investigations into Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (C.T.E.) continue without conclusive ends. Some people attribute erratic behavior and depression in athletes to the repeated impact and jarring to the skull in football.

Most proposed solutions to the problem seem to fall short of a totally satisfying an innovative policy for safety on the field.

A SportsCenter spokesman boldly suggested that the National Football League remove the facemask on the standard issue football helmet. Though seemingly ridiculous, he explained that players will be less aggressive and that they will tackle with proper form.

We would see, for a few years perhaps, an increase in broken noses and eye sockets, but eventually players would be gentler in their hitting.

Perhaps it should be on the NFL to remedy the uproar.

The league is notorious for grimacing at the thought of drug testing for illegal strength enhancers and steroids; players keep getting bigger each year, and we can only assume that it is not from the Gatorade. The NFL wants, it seems, to resurrect gladiator entertainment, where players that are pumped with chemicals can tear at each other for the crowd's pleasure.

Also, the league's new and hypocritical policy toward safety, where it attempts to prevent head collisions on defensive plays with monetary fines, launches parallel to its other plans to extend the season to 18 games. Obviously, the league thought that such contradictory sneakiness would fly under the radar of American fans.

Maybe more important than the health of current professionals, the media circus surrounding football head injuries has raised the question of child safety, from Pop Warner to high school football. Kids, many say, should have increased protection, as their brains are still in development in the little league ages.

Though nothing new, some child-athletes are forced to retire from football at age 12 because their most recent head injury requires that they spend the next few years taking drugs for adequate brain regrowth.

The issue raises many more important questions than it produces intelligent answers. But it seems that the NFL's policymakers retain the most clout when it comes to how to prevent barbaric injury and on-the-field deaths.

This trickle down effect will influence younger leagues that idolize their NFL heroes, and as a result, it will change the way we all play and watch a national pastime.


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