While watching an NFL football game may take the pain and stress away from a viewer’s mind for a day; the hard hits taken by a player can last a lifetime. For the past few seasons, NFL associates have raised an eyebrow at the concerns for the safety of the players; mainly hard hits above the chest that leave players with concussions.
When having knowledge on the force that goes into every hit, it gives me concerns for the players. A few weeks ago, the NFL confirmed in a formal announcement that the deaths of previous players were due to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is caused when there are multiple severe hits to the head.
CTE cannot be completely diagnosed until a full autopsy of the brain is done. There are, however, symptoms of CTE, which include disorientation, dizziness, headaches, depression, and dementia.
Though there is no possible way to completely eliminate CTE, there are ways to improve the equipment. In previous seasons the NFL has implemented new technology in helmets to track if the brain has a concussion after a big hit. Also, they improved the outer shell and cushion of the helmet to absorb the impact of the hit.
With the NFL conceding that the brain disorder results from the game, it brings up the question for parents: should they let their child play football? If parents do decide to let their child play, they should take into consideration how well-trained the referees are at making calls, what equipment is being used, and how the child is taught to play.
The Editorial Board of the New York Times illustrated the long term effects of CTE on football players in an article about The NFL Comes Clean on Concussions.
The actions that are being taken into consideration by the NFL at this moment are a bit ridiculous, however. They state if a player gets penalized for committing a personal foul (when a player makes an illegal hit that could harm the health of another player) twice, they should be ejected for the remainder of the game. A better compromise would be if a player commits two personal fouls, they should sit out for one full quarter and be faced with a fine. If the player exceeds that limit, he should then be ejected for the remainder of the game, be restricted from playing the next one, and having a greater fine.
All-in-all it is up to each player to know the risk of playing the game.
While all of the NFL’s recent actions are a step in the right direction, it’s still a weak attempt to protect the current generation of players. After all, they’re old dogs whose tricks have already been established. The key is in properly training the next generation.