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Concussions In American Football Essay

First, I would like to discuss the fact that concussions are a well- known enough concern that allows people to make decisions on weather taking part in the game of football is worth the risk. In an article written in 2011 on ESPN. com, former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew commented on whether he would play through a concussion or take himself out of the game. Jones-Drew responded by saying he would hide the concussion: “The bottom line is: You have to be able to put food on the table. No one’s going to sign or want a guy who can’t stay healthy. I know there will be a day when l’m going to have rouble walking.

I realize that,” Jones-Drew said. “But this is what I signed up for. Injuries are part of the game. If you don’t want to get hit, then you shouldn’t be playing. ” Based on the comments made by an NFL player, the main problem concerning concussions is not that he is unaware of the risks; rather, it is the fact that he knows he has a choice to make, and whether the risk of potentially ruining his future mental and physical health is worth taking. Of course there is a counter argument and not all players would agree, but according to former San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith, “99 percent of guys in the

NFL” would agree with Maurice Jones-Drew’s comments (Players). Instead of changing the rules of football or limiting who is allowed to play football, I argue that it is important that we do not hide the game of football from anyone, and instead teach children at a young age the correct way to tackle and block. University of North Carolina researcher, Kevin Guskiewicz, who studies football collisions for a living believes that the reason there is so much concern regarding the issue today is because this is the most we have ever known about concussions and the effect it can have on players (Hruby).

Guskiewicz also believes that “if the first time a kid is going to strap on a helmet or shoulder pads and play football or hockey is at age 15 or 16 when the weight differential between players [colliding] could potentially be 80-90 pounds — like a 210-pound senior linebacker tackling a 130-pound freshman — that is when you’re going to have problems, if it’s the first time you’re trying to protect yourself” (Hruby). In other words, Guskiewicz is suggesting that that it is actually more dangerous to allow kids to start playing football once they reach the high school level.

Guskiewicz, who works at the University of North Carolina’s concussion research center, is part of a group that actually studies concussions and the impacts players make with their heads by putting accelerometers inside football players’ helmet and linking it to video footage of games and practices. By doing this, his team can meet with coaches and players to discuss what the player is doing wrong when making a dangerous tackle and try to fix it (Frollo). The NFL and USA Football have worked together in an effort to promote behavior modification and safe tackling to coaches and parents through a program called Heads Up” (Hruby).

I argue that this program is what the NFL should focus on instead of trying to change the rules of the game. The “Heads Up” program teaches players and coaches the correct way to tackle and the technique is the same for every tackle. The technique according to USA Football is “as a defender nears the point of contact, he takes a downhill power step toward the ball-carrier, keeping his head and eyes up. With a staggered stance – one foot slightly in front of the other – a deep knee bend while maintaining the 45-degree back angle coils the proper muscles for impact.

By throwing “double ppercuts” with his arms tight into the ball-carrier’s body, the tackler releases his hips and grabs at the top of the jersey numbers to drive through the runner” (Frollo). This style of tackling allows the tackler to exert as much force as possible while also keeping the tackler’s head away from contact creating a safer impact for both players upon collision. Dr. Patrick Kersey, USA Football’s medical director and a sports medicine specialist believes that “the sooner a body learns something – whether it is football or any academic or athletic exertion – the better” (Frollo).

This represents how Kersey believes that if ootball players are able to learn the correct and safe way to play football at an early age, they will take the skills learned at a young age and use them as they progress through higher levels of football. The NFL’s involvement in “Heads Up” illustrates their efforts towards making the game as safe as possible at all levels of the sport. In fact, the NFL made a $30 million donation to the National Institutes of Health for research on the connection between brain injuries and long-term disorders in September 2012.

The donation was made after a study was released that showed many men who played in the NFL for at least five easons and eventually developed Alzheimer’s disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease (Belson). This donation represents how the NFL is not trying to hide away from the problems the league is facing regarding player safety. In addition to the donation, in a letter to the fans in October 2013, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the problem of concussions and the work that has been done towards reducing them.

In his letter, Goodell wrote that the NFL “in recent years… [has] focused on protecting players from hits to the head and neck area. A new rule for 2013 prohibits any player… from hitting an opponent with the crown f the helmet outside of the tackle box… [as] the goal is to take the head out of the game” (Goodell). In a speech at Harvard in 2012, Goodell spoke about the changes needed in the NFL culture (Belson). By changes in the NFL culture, Goodell refers to changing the players’ attitudes so that they will reveal to trainers when they are truly hurt.

If players would reveal when they are truly hurt instead of potentially playing in a game while having a concussion, many long-term injuries could be prevented (Belson). The issue regarding player honesty is one that is hard for the NFL to control. According to an AP report, the NFL has athletic trainers and team doctors on the sidelines that do all they can to ensure player safety, as well as an athletic trainer in the press box during games to point out possible concerns.

The main reasons why many players do not report injuries are because they are afraid of losing their job along with future paychecks. If an NFL player loses his job and another player comes in and takes his place, the player with the injury could lose his job permanently and that scares players. Also, NFL players do not want a reputation for being an injury prone layer because teams can use that against the player in contract negotiations (Bradley).

In this game and business of football, it is hard for the NFL to prevent the hiding of injuries. This is something that fans must understand, and realize there is nothing more the NFL should have to do. Limiting who is allowed to play the game and/or modifying the rules of football are both unnecessary as I provided strong evidence as to what would help save the game of football and what should be done regarding the issue. As a result, I stand firmly on my argument that no more change should be brought to the game of football.

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