In the past couple of years, several stories have broken about the dangers of playing football. It was reported recently that playing football can cause Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is a degenerative brain disorder, according to the Washington Post.
CTE is caused by repeated hits or blows to the head and can cause severe headaches, depression, suicidal thoughts and memory loss. Concussions are not something to take lightly. According to The Atlantic, almost 80 percent of retired NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE.
Former NFL star linebacker Junior Seau sadly took his own life in 2012 due to what would later be found as CTE. Seau had severe headaches, and his family said he suffered with mild depression. CTE is tremendously common in the brain scans of former NFL players.
He was known as one of the league’s best linebackers in his 20-year career. Seau played for the San Diego Chargers, the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots. He was a 10- time all pro, 12-time pro bowler and a one-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, according to ESPN.
The NFL refused to acknowledge the concern for the safety of its players for a large number of years. However, more and more data is being released by laboratories on concussions and CTE, and the NFL is awarding billions of dollars to its former players to prevent future lawsuits, according to Sports Illustrated.
Nowadays, some parents want their kids to play other sports such as basketball or soccer. “I would prefer my son not to play football and I will attempt to steer him towards other sports,” said psychology teacher Jamie Paoloni.
There have been several new rule changes in both the NFL and the NCAA designed to defend players against head-to-head hits, according to Deadspin and ESPN. Safety will always be a huge issue in football but the game is safer than ever.
“The things you can learn through football, like competing against yourself and others are invaluable,” said defensive line coach and PE teacher Matthew Lattig. “Football teaches great discipline and toughness, both mentally and physically, that some other sports don’t.”
Once football season comes to an end, many of the players wish that the season was still going on. Players create an almost unbreakable bond with their teammates throughout the season and when it ends, they will long for it to be back.
Many new rule changes such as the NCAA targeting rule have been designed to protect players from concussions in the past few years.
Instant replay officials now have more responsibility for player safety, including the ability to stop play and call a targeting penalty that the referee on the field may have missed.
The targeting rule also defends against hits above the shoulders and results in an automatic ejection and a 15-yard penalty if the officials deem the hit by a player to be targeted to the head or neck area and the other player to be defenseless.
According to sports surgeon Dr. David Geier, the prevalence of concussions in football has decreased but the number of injuries in other areas have gone up. This means that due to the targeting rule, the severity of injuries has gone down but the total number of injuries has increased as a result.
Football is in the beginning stages of an evolution; one where the way the game is played is changing. The game is becoming less physical compared to previous years due to the common occurrence of injuries.