American football is a very aggressive full contact sport that is very prone to serious injuries. Football is known to give a wide number of players concussions due to head injuries from another player. It is important to deal with this problem because many football players are getting seriously injured to the point where their concussions become fatal. Imagine your child wanting to play football than getting a bad concussion from it and they become permanently damaged. My proposed solution for this concussion epidemic is to create new rules in the game against targeting headshots.
A solution to the concussion epidemic in the game of football is creating a rule that goes against targeting a players head when getting tackled. NFL Competition Committee Chairman McKay said, ‘We saw so many hits when a player lowered his head and delivered a hit and either hurt himself or the player he was hitting” (Barca). The NFL created a rule where players are no longer allowed to lower their head when hitting another player and initiating contact with their helmet. If this rule were broken it would give the team a fifteen-yard penalty and the player who initiated the tackle to possibly be kicked out of the game. The reason why this new rule was set is that in January, the NFL revealed statistics displaying that concussions went up by “13.5 percent (243 to 281) over the preseason and regular season from 2016 to 2017” (Barca).
However, the rules should be stricter as it affects the player’s life and should be taken into more consideration for their safety. Creating a longer penalty towards a player who initiates contact with their head or targets a players head would help decrease the amount of concussion made by their actions. An alternative to my proposed solution is to teach the players smarter ways to tackle their opponents in ways that are efficient but also won’t harm them as much. Teaching players, in the beginning, to tackle safely will benefit the players as it leaves for less risk of fatal injuries.
During the 2017 preseason, the NFL distinguished seven football teams that had a higher rate of concussions during the practice-field. They then discussed with those teams about football operations and coaching staffs which, according to the NFL, lead to the number of preseason concussions to decline for almost all the teams (Maske). This proves that just by discussing to football teams about being cautious of concussion-prone injuries that it will decrease the number of overall concussions in a game.
This is why teaching players smarter ways to tackle and having the thought of not hurting their opponent while getting the ball at the beginning of their training would benefit a lot in the decline of concussions in football games. Oppositions to my solution would be that adding new rules to the game of football would change the game entirely and will not be as entertaining to watch. Tom Troy, president of Chesterton Pop Warner, mentioned that “it’s tough for many of us that love the game because you don’t want to see it change’ (Anderson).
However, he understood why changes should be made as the game risks serious head trauma. This lead to Pop Warner making rule changes including limiting contact in practices and teaching new tackling techniques to address the growing concern with head safety in youth football. Although changing up the rules in football could lead to slight changes to the game as a whole, it would greatly benefit the player’s health and safety. To add on, another alternative solution is to develop drugs to prevent or treat concussions.
In the substance of Cannabis, there are dozens of active biological compounds which are called cannabinoids which can help limit the deterioration of brain tissue (Basen). Dr. Dave Schubert, a neurobiologist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California and the senior author of the study, said that there was a study during 2016 that revealed that the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can help decrease brain inflammation and the build-up of harmful proteins in brain cells found in Alzheimer’s disease (1).
Since Alzheimer’s disease is known to have a very strong inflammation component the use of this drug could also help in the reduction of concussions. To continue this argument, the cannabinoid that’s attracted researchers’ attention is cannabidiol (CBD). Dr. Bill Kinney, chief scientific officer of the Huntington said that the cannabinoid CBD is neuroprotective which will help protect the brains of players from injuries in the future and also help repair damaged neurons (2).
However, a contradicting idea to this is that parents wouldn’t want their kids to be taking drugs of any sort because it could become addicting. Many people are already against the use of drugs so bringing it up as a solution will definitely cause some controversy. To rebuttal this opposition, however, if the use of drugs is able to keep a football player safe from concussions without any negative side effects, why not take the chance to use them?
Additionally, another alternative solution could be to design safer helmets to protect the heads of players more. There a researcher at the University of California Los Angeles that are working on an energy-absorbing micro-lattice material called Architected Lattice (Kabuto). This new material would replace the foam already inside football helmets and help absorb the impact shock from getting hit which will lessen the damage of the hit. Larry Carlson, director of advanced materials at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and part of the team developing this lattice, said that the micro-lattice material has been shown to decrease the impact force by twenty-six percent more compared to the football helmets used now (Kabuto).
If there was more time put into creating new material for the helmets, perhaps the impact force shock could be almost completely removed when a player gets hit which will definitely allow for a player to not suffer from a head or brain injury. An opposing point of view to this claim would be the amount it costs to design new helmets. One could argue that it is a waste of money and time to design new helmets for players. However, it would not be a waste because re-designing helmets to better support players could save their lives and improve their safety. The cost shouldn’t matter as donations could be provided to this cause.
The reason why finding solutions to the number of concussions in the game of football is important is because it risks many players lives and that should be taken seriously. If there is a way to help prevent the risks of concussions and to help keep the players safer, one should take that opportunity to help support those solutions. Although the game might be slightly affected, the players of the game would be positively affected which is more important overall.