The Dangers of Concussions for NFL Players
Some people are unaware of many head injuries that can occur during a professional football game. Many people choose to disregard the head injuries that have been proven to occur. These people are usually people who are fond of the game of football and do not want to see changes in the way the game is played, even if these changes make a safer environment for the players. They believe that the entertainment that the sport provides is more important than the lives of the players that participate, and the families of the players who have to watch these traumatic injuries happen to their loved ones. I am writing to assert that we as sports fans and a society need to protect these players, because concussions and other head injuries that these players receive have a major impact on the rest of their lives.
The common sports fan thinks of football related head injuries occurring mainly in the NFL. However, the most common occurrence of traumatic head injuries is found in youth football leagues. There are many reasons for the heightened rate of injuries in youth football players. First, the child’s head is bigger than the adult’s when compared to their respective neck sizes. Therefore their head is more likely to whip around and cause dangerous collisions. Another reason major head injuries are often found in youth football leagues is the repetitiveness of the injury. Youth football leagues usually do not have the funding for proper medical staff on the sidelines of football games. Therefore many of these injuries often go unnoticed. Then once the concussions start to pile on top of each other, the long term effects become more significant. Until there is more funding towards proper medical staff, there will continue to be a very large rate of injuries happening in youth football players.
Obviously, concussions and head injuries occur in more than just youth football. They are very prominent in all levels of football, including the NFL. The NFL has collected data samples on the amount of concussions in several different time periods. From 1996-2001 eight hundred and eighty seven concussions were recorded, and from 2002-2007 eight hundred and fifty four concussions were found. There is a slight difference in the amount of concussions reported between these two time periods, however the separation is insignificant. This suggests that the NFL is working to find solutions to the high occurrence rate of concussions, but it is not happening very quickly. Part of the issue is that once a player receives one concussion, they become 2-5.8 percent more likely to have another one. Therefore the NFL has to work even harder to find a method that protects players from receiving the injury once, because after one incident the player is much more likely to see repetition of the injury. The most alarming statistic for the players and the NFL is that 50% of concussions that occur, go unreported. This means that the players will not receive the proper treatment and rest time, and they will also become more susceptible to a second concussion. This lack of awareness for the injury that occurred is due to both players wanting to stay in the game, and the medical staff missing the incident and therefore not looking for any possible symptoms. Also coaches may be reluctant to remove their best players from the game if they think that they can tough out the symptoms. This is a vicious cycle because the player does not undergo the concussion treatment that is needed for a full recovery, and they are then more likely to receive another concussion. Both sides of the spectrum must become more responsible and accountable in order to see a decrease in the concussion rate.
Later in football player’s lives, symptoms have been recorded that show a connection to their concussions that occurred during their playing years. One of the most common effects of concussions in former football players is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE attacks the attention span, memory, judgement, and general functions of the brain. Studies have shown that the more times the subject received a concussion, the worse their symptoms are.CTE is hard to diagnose, but its effects can very dangerous and in rare cases, fatal. Studies have revealed that former football players have died from the effects of CTE. The disease affects the judgements of humans enough that the people who have it become a danger to themselves and the people around them. This information provides the scary reality that these football players face with their involvement in the sport.
Football is America’s most popular sport, but is certainly one of its most dangerous too. The normal football fan would probably not want to see changes to the game that we watch on fall Sundays. However it is time that strong safety measures be taken in order to protect the players. These players are humans just like you and I, and it is horrifying to see the effects these head injuries are having on them. Football leagues have made efforts to protect their players, but not significant enough to see real changes. It is time for us as football fans to see past these players on the field talents, and protect their well-being for them and their loved ones.
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- McKee, Ann C., Robert C. Cantu, Christopher J. Nowinski, E. Tessa Hedley Whyte, Brandon E. Gavett, Andrew E. Budson, Veronica E. Santini, HyoSoon Lee, Caroline A. Kubilus, and Robert A. Stern. “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Athletes: Progressive Tauopathy following Repetitive Head Injury.” Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2009. Web. 04 Sept. 2016.