Protection in a Violent Sport
There have been many steps implemented in the sport of football to protect players from serious injury. Injuries that can lead to concussions and brain injury have taken a center stage during the last few years. Rules against unnecessary roughing, clipping and hits to the head are heavily enforced. In some cases, players have been suspended and fined for violating these rules. In addition, new types of helmets and other ‘body armor’ have been implemented to lessen the effects of high impact collisions on the brain.
However, the reality is that the game of football that America loves, and which has become a multi-billion dollar industry, is a violent sport. According to a 2006 ESPN article, the average professional football player stands over 6 feet in height and weighs 248 pounds. When you have a scenario of one person running full speed to catch, or run with a ball and another opposing person ready to stop that person by throwing their body at a fast rate of speed against the other person, injuries of all types are inevitable.
Bill Romanowski who played with 4 different National Football League Teams during his 16 year professional career believes that while the regulations and suspensions surrounding hits to the head are meant to protect players, all players will suffer head concussions during the course of a game. Romanowski states that on every play, the front linesman of each team collide causing the players heads to snap back and be jolted in a rapid and violent manner. While these are seldom carried off on a stretcher, they will suffer years down the road from the cumulative effects of such trauma.
Last year, the NFL settled a lawsuit with a group of 4,500 retired NFL players, related to head trauma, in the amount of $765 million dollars. Under the agreement, the NFL and NFL Properties will contribute $765 million to provide medical benefits and injury compensation for retired NFL football players, fund medical and safety research, and cover litigation expenses. Attorneys' fees, to be approved by the district court, will be paid in addition to the settlement amount.
A step in the right direction it is. However, players from pop warner through high school football, college football and the pro ranks must understand that they are willingly exposing themselves to potential brain injury, by participating in the game of football. No amount of money, or medical treatment can compensate you for a lifetime of brain malfunction.
Image Credit » By Raster: Ixnay Vector: Beao (w:File:Wikiproject NFL.png) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons