Due to the dangers of concussions in football, rules should be enforced on all levels from youth programs through the National Football League (NFL). Concussions happen at all levels in football, not just in the professional league. By focusing on and implementing rules concerning the safety of players of all ages, coaches and players would typically be more aware of the dangers and not be as quick with the “shake it off” mentality that could potentially cause further damage to a player who has received a concussion. Throughout the years, many changes have been made and implemented on the higher levels of play, so enforcing some of the same rules for coaches and players on the younger levels will typically help, as well.
“A concussion is a traumatically induced physiological disruption of brain function that can be caused either by a direct blow to the head or by indirect impulsive forces transmitted to the head.” (L. Syd M. Johnson, PhD., 180-181). When football was first invented, people did not understand the dangers of concussions because no one knew much about them. Players did not wear helmets like you see today. Their helmets were made of leather with no face-masks or chin straps, so a hit to the head back then was very likely a concussion for them. Today’s newer helmets provide much more protection for the head. They are made of a hard plastic shell filled with a lot of foam padding and a facemask, which is made of metal bars coated with plastic. These newer helmets protect the head from contact with the ground or with another player. In 1905, American football was almost put to an end because in one season there were 18 college kids who died from head injuries. Theodore Roosevelt called for there to be more rules put in that would help prevent some of these deaths (Josh Hunsucker 805). Chinstraps and mouthpieces play a major part in preventing concussions, also. The chin strap is a piece of material that fits around the chin and buckles on both sides of the helmet and it locks the head into place inside the helmet keeping it from bouncing around inside of the helmet. The mouthpiece is molded to the player’s teeth and it provides a cushion in between your upper and lower jaw, which keeps your teeth from banging together when you get hit.
Before doctors started studying about concussions if a player received a concussion during the game they might sit out a play then the coach would put them right back in the game. Now if a player receives a concussion in a game, he is immediately taken out of the game and is put under watch and there is a series of tests that the player has to pass before he can even go back to practicing and he must sit out at least a week from when he suffered the concussion (Hunsucker 804). When people suffer multiple concussions it makes it where that person cannot function by themselves, because a concussion is just another word for brain damage. If the player does not pass all the steps in the concussion protocol then he must sit out until he does.
The NFL has hired several medical committees to study about concussions to help come up with rules that will help prevent concussions (Hunsucker 807). The NFL has donated millions of dollars to research a way to sop people from getting concussions but there has not been a 100 percent effective way yet (Taylor 1). The players see these rules as changing the game for the worst because most of the big hits that you see are head to head and are at a lot higher risk for causing a concussion. The major rule, which has come in to affect, is the targeting rule. This rule states that no team member can lead with their head and hit a player from the opposite team in the head. If someone is charged with this penalty in college or high school it results in an ejection, but if it happens in the NFL the accused player is ejected and fined for the penalty. These rules have been made to try and protect the players from suffering serious injuries or death that could be caused by Concussions. Another rule change that is being enforced to help with preventing concussions is allowing teams to have very little contact in practice. Another step is experts saying that parents should not allow their kids to play tackle football until they are at least fourteen years old (Tyler 4). Lectures are given to
With the new development of safety equipment I feel like we are getting closer to being able to prevent the majority of the Concussion. I know that we will probably not ever be able to prevent concussions from happening at all but if we can prevent the majority of them from happening that is considered a major victory in my eyes. Concussions not only affect the player but they also effect the players family because a concussion could cause serious injury or cause the player to have long term memory loss and they might not recognize their family.
Some people say that to effectively prevent the number of concussions in youth under 16 is to eliminate tackling from the sport (Johnson 4). This is not true in my opinion because the kids could still trip and fall and hit their heads and suffer a concussion. I think the most important step in preventing concussions besides wearing the recommended protective equipment is having coaches who educate their players on correct form tackling in practice. If the youth is taught how to correctly tackle someone we will see a major decrease in the number of concussions (Johnson4). When kids are not taught the proper to tackle another player they just run in with their head down and hit the opposing player with their heads. So if players don’t lead with their heads there will be less head to head contact, which will result in a decrease of concussions. When it comes down to it Safety is the major concern at the end of all the teaching our coaches do and the researching the medical committees.
Concussions are not only in football they happen in all other sports but they are just most commonly seen in football. Boxers use mouthpieces to help prevent them from getting concussions. People want to ban football because of the numbers of head injuries but the truth of the matter is that you can suffer the same injury walking down the street as you can in a game of football.
Coaches teach their young players how to tackle by having them get in a upright position rather than in the regular three point stance because when they are standing up and it prevents them from lowering their head and using it as a weapon. This causes the kids to use their hands shoulder and bodies not only to tackle but also to block rather than using their head. The coaches also make it to where hitting in practice is at half speed rather than full speed because at half speed the coaches can see more of what is going on and can teach more effectively. (Johnson 4)
Although there is no fool proof way to prevent all concussions in football we are on the right track and I believe that one day there will be a for sure way to prevent concussions. There is too much technology available to us not to be ale to find an answer to preventing concussions. We are on the edge of preventing them right now with the rules that have been put into place and the safety equipment that has been discovered. With all these things we have come a long way since the game of football was created. Concussions are similar to cancer in the way that neither one can be prevented they can only be treated.
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