I’ll admit it. For years I was one of those Americans that had no regard for the safety of the players in the NFL. The execs in the NFL however have had different ideas when it comes to player safety. They, unlike thousands of fans, are drastically concerned with player safety for a number of different reasons, concussions being the primary. This can be seen through the new rules that have been recently implemented by the NFL. Their hope is that these new rules will cut down on the amount of injuries that commonly occur on the field, specifically the amount concussions. Like many, I was not a fan of these new rules because I thought that it’d take away from the exciting moments that make up the game. So why would the NFL try and reprehend these exciting moments we fans have come to cherish? We don’t want to watch a game where men dressed like a bunch of zebras replace the pigskin with yellow flags. Some of my earliest NFL memories are made up of these exciting moments. They were what made me a fan of football. Moments like Steve Atwaters infamous smack down on the Nigerian Nightmare Christian Okoye, or the priceless sound of John Lynch hitting a receiver who foolishly dared to cross the middle. These moments on the gridiron are what plant the seeds for every generations growing fandom, and to think that a flag would of been thrown if these plays some how happened in today’s game makes me sick to me stomach. That’s why it took so long for me to support the new rules, because I felt they would replace these moments with yellow flags.
Recent information regarding the game of football is currently challenging the traditional values of football fans throughout the nation. The seeds that made us grow into fans are now having trouble growing on the next generation of Americans. Our natural behavior of constantly trying to solve the answers in the box of the unknown doesn’t always enlighten us in the way we imagined, and sometimes we human beings have to pay the price for opening that box. With knowledge comes the truth, and sometimes the truth isn’t always what we expect it to be. It’ll hit us where we least expect it, and in this case it happens to be in the sport of football.
The recent truth that has been told to us concerning the long term effects of concussions on the human brain has put the sport of football, and the fans alike, in a tough situation. It’s evident that concussions are unfortunately a common occurrence in the sport of football. Wether they are caused intentionally or unintentionally, concussions are something that have been apart of the game since it originated. For decades, head injuries were primarily viewed as an injury that happened to those who played football. So as a result they were not adequately attended to in the manner in which they should have been. The standard practice for players who suffered a concussion was pretty much non-existent because no one thought they were serious. In fact, players who had received a concussion by today’s standards rarely knew that they were actually concussed. In some cases, these same players would go back onto the field to finish the rest of the game.
What we now know about concussions is very controversial, especially when it comes to the NFL. The science behind studying the symptoms they cause and the treatment they require is still in its infancy. This has caused a lot of people with close ties to the sport to be hesitant when it comes to properly dealing with them. What we do know however is staggering, and it is something that can no longer be taken lightly. In 2007 the NFL conducted a study consisting of over 2,500 retired players. It suggested that the players who had received over three concussions over the course of their careers would have tripled the risk of depression. If there are any repercussions to an individual who has received multiple concussions during their life span, than its safe to assume that depression is certainly a plausible symptom. The most heart-wrenching stories of the long-term effects caused by concussions can most notably be seen in the cases of the three retired NFL players that unfortunately took their own lives. Ray Easterling, Dave Duerson, and Junior Seau were all retired NFL players who experienced multiple concussions during the course of their careers. They sadly took their own lives as a result years later.
So with that being said, it is only right to assume that head injuries represent the biggest issue the sport of football and its fans have ever faced. Which says a lot considering the NFL is facing a number of other dark issues. We must ensure that we fix this issue as well because the future of the sport likely rides on how we determine the outcome.
The moment I changed my mind on the new rules being implemented by the NFL was when I saw a study concerning the amount of youth entering the game for the first time. Historically, football has been a very popular sport among the youth in this country. In the past, more and more kids were starting to play football for the first time. However, this is no longer the case. For the first time in the history of the sport, less and less kids are starting to play football. It is shrinking with today’s youth. This fact alone should be alarming to each and every fan out there. Parents are now wary of allowing their kids to play football as a result of the information surrounding concussions and their effects on those who experience them. This, along with the stories of former players like Junior Seau, is what is causing the sport to diminish among young people today. So what’s next, how do we fix this problem to ensure the growth and future of the sport?
What you should do if you are a fan of football is allow the NFL to set up the policies and procedures to ensure the safety of the players. This includes endorsing the new rules that will hopefully help ensure player safety. If these new rules can produce positive results, than I truly expect the game to get back to where it once was among today’s youngsters. I believe this because the NFL is setting the standard for every other level of football when it comes to concussions. That is why they must succeed, because right now the future of the sport is in jeopardy, if this current trend continues than the game may not be what it is today in the future. So if you as a fan want to watch the same game on your couch twenty years down the road from now, than I highly recommend that you endorse these new rules.
PS – To the critics who feel like I once did about these new rules. Take a closer look into how the game is played. You will see that the majority of the plays in the NFL are absent of injuries and/or penalties. Yes, I know that these sort of plays may seem more prevalent than ever, especially the penalties. But I can personally guarantee that the majority of the plays, at all levels of football, are absent of both. With that being said, the NFL should expand on these plays, make them even more of a majority. If they do that, which I’ll leave up to the experts to figure out, than I don’t see why the game cant become safer as a result. Mind that this result will also maintain the same amount of prestige that it has today, while at the same time cut down on the amount of injuries and penalties we all hate witnessing. If this actually happens, than the game of football in the future wont miss a beat.
- NFL to pay $765 million to settle players’ concussion lawsuit (thestar.com)
- Judge: NFL, players settle concussion suit (espn.go.com)
- NFL, players reach proposed $765M settlement of concussion-related lawsuits (foxnews.com)
- Judge: NFL, players to settle concussion lawsuits (news.yahoo.com)