By Alex Trippi (17")
Sports Staff Writer
Concussions can lead to permanent brain damage and are very common in football. Two or three years ago, the average football fan did not understand damage caused by concussions because little research had been done. The long term effects were completely unknown and frankly not a big issue. Doctors and experts were starting to realize that concussions were affecting NFL player safety. The majority of football fans thought that the NFL was just becoming soft. In reality, the NFL is helping save players lives because of the precautions that have been put in place.
Many people who have been football fans their entire lives have not fully accepted the new rules put in place to prevent concussions. They believe that since the players are getting paid millions of dollars they should be able to take hits to the head. Also, these people feel like the game of football that they have always known is going to morph into a totally different game that requires pillows and blankets. The concussion protocol and many new rules that protect players heads are among the reasons why fans think the game will change so dramatically.
In 2015, there was a study from Johns Hopkins University proving that multiple head injuries caused brain damage even decades after they stopped playing. The research done helps those who are trying to put rules in place to prevent concussions. Johns Hopkins tested nine former NFL players and they had a control group of an additional group of nine people who never played football. All nine of the football players showed some form of damage to their brains, while the other nine didn’t show any. Testing like Hopkins led can help people decide whether or not they want to play football now that they know the risks. This testing can also motivate football equipment companies to make safer equipment to eliminate the risk of brain damage.
Currently there is a concussion protocol in the NFL. This takes place when a player shows any indication of a pain in their head. They are immediately taken out of the game and evaluated by a doctor. Throughout the next week or weeks, depending on the patient, the player is cleared to play as soon as he/she shows that their symptoms of the concussion has ended. This is not the NFL being soft; this is the NFL protecting their very valuable players.
One example of a NFL player affected by head trauma who didn’t get any help was Junior Seau. He was a long time NFL player who committed suicide. His family donated his brain to NIH and they discovered that his brain had injuries consistent with someone who had brain damage. His suicide was directly related to the fact that he suffered brain injuries during his football career. His family sued the NFL for millions of dollars.
Years ago there was no knowledge about concussions that we do have today. With all of the research there is no denying that the NFL needs to protect their players from concussions. They are not being soft;they are saving lives.