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Less protection may mean fewer concussions.
The Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers is making headlines today. But it’s only a momentary diversion from what has been, and will remain, the NFL’s dominant storyline: the increasing awareness of head injuries, the escalating debate over what to do about them — and the growing sense that football’s long-term survival may hang in the balance.
It seems everyone has an opinion about violence in football, including President Obama. He told the New Republic a couple weeks ago that though he is a “big football fan,” if he had a son, “I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football” because of the physical toll of the sport.
Ideas about how to reduce head injuries range from the mundane (more sophisticated helmets) to the radical (position weight limits). Here’s an idea that belongs in the latter category: take the helmets off completely.
The idea might sound crazy at first, but I’m not the only one who thinks less protection may mean fewer head injuries. Hall of Fame former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Troy Aikman has suggested that ditching helmets could cut down on head injuries, as have future Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Hines Ward and former 10-year NFL Quarterback Sean Salisbury.
The one thing everyone can agree on is that concussions have become a major problem in football.
The number of players with concussions listed on weekly NFL injury reports has swelled in recent years. According to Concussion Watch, 170 players were listed on injury reports for concussions during the 2012 season, nearly double the 92 reported in 2009.
Similar increases have been reported at lower levels of football. At the youth level, more than half a million concussions are reported every season.
Concussions occur when the brain slams against the skull. Symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness. Long-term effects include impaired judgment, memory loss, poor impulse control, dementia, and depression.
A 2007 study by the University of North Carolina’s Center for the Study of Retired Athletes found that the rate of diagnosed clinical depression among retired NFL players is strongly correlated with the number of concussions they sustained.
The authors found that 20% of the nearly 600 ex-players who said they’d sustained at least three concussions were determined by a doctor to be depressed. That was three times the depression rate of players who had not sustained concussions.
The suicides of several prominent former NFL players have been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease found in ex-players with a history of multiple concussions.
A 2012 study of nearly 3,500 ex-pros found that they were three to four times more likely than the general population to die from brain diseases.
Thousands of former NFL players have sued the NFL, accusing it of hiding information about the dangers of concussions.
In recent years, the NFL has begun implementing mandatory guidelines for removing injured players from games and timelines for when they’re allowed to return.
But many concussions don’t ever make the injury reports. Some players don’t realize they’ve been concussed, and many others don’t reveal their concussions for fear of being taken off the field.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online