Advancements in technology and health protocols have brought attention to the actual severity of concussions in football. Many NFL players that have had a concussion, or multiple concussions, not only struggle when they return to the field, but also struggle with normal aspects of their lives. The relevance of concussions has risen so far as of late, that former NFL players who previously suffered from concussions have gotten together to sue the NFL for improper information and protocol when they suffered their concussions.
The concern of concussions has risen to a point where people have debated whether football should be banned altogether. The risk of concussions in football is very high compared to other sports. The constant contact and trauma that the head takes from being hit can sometimes lead to a concussion, but they are usually sustained through one powerful hit to the head. The impact of one player running into another has almost twice the strength then one person running into a standing, or placed individual (Onion). This would prove noteworthy for the kickoff or punt return aspect of football.
During these situations the opposing teams are running full speed toward each other, and the ball carrier is usually the one who is at the most risk for concussion. The discussion of removing kickoffs and punts has been a major topic of discussion because of these facts. There are also different levels of concussions. A minor concussion or grade one concussion may involve being dazed, head ringing, a minor headache, and a very brief loss of consciousness. A more severe concussion such as a grade 2 concussion may cause being blacked out, confusion, a pounding headache, and blurred vision.
The most server concussion or grade 3 concussion may cause being blacked out, nausea or vomiting, loss of short term memory, and saying the same thing over and over(Swierzewski). The most dangerous symptoms occur when a player is cleared to play before he has fully recovered from their concussion. When an athlete is cleared to play before he has fully recovered that is when death can occur. Retired players that have played professional football at some time in their life who sustained concussions have also had many problems in their retirement.
One of these many retired players include former defensive lineman George Visger who frequently has memory loss or severe headaches. Visger said that he believes that he accumulated close to hundreds if not thousands of concussions throughout his football playing career, some documented, some not (Smith). Some problems that occur from concussions could end up being more life threatening then Visgers symptoms. The suicides of former Chicago Bears Defensive end Dave Duerson and Owen Thomas, a University of Pennsylvania defensive end, have shown that the severity of concussions can psychologically destroy a person (Compton).
These symptoms that Visger, Duerson, and Thomas have or had experienced have happened to many other retired football players as well, which shows that this is very common among concussion recipients. Visger was also one of more than four thousand former NFL players who filed a seven hundred and seventy five million dollar lawsuit against the NFL for lack of information of concussions, and neglecting of the severity of concussions (Farrar). This settlement was reached and the money was granted to the players, but the fact is that these men must live with consequences that they received when they played the game of football.
Not only is everyday life a struggle for these gentlemen, but the risks that they took can sometimes lead to their untimely death. Although most athletes are aware of concussions, not everyone is aware of the long lasting effects of them which are up to coaches and staff to explain. The obligation of an employer to provide its employees with a safe workplace free from recognized hazards is well established. In the absence of specific standards for an industry, an employer is required under OSHAs general duty clause to provide its employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards which cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm(Holmquist).
In this case the employee is the athlete and the employers would be the football teams staff and coaches. It is up to them to explain the long term consequences to these players, and enforce the safety protocol that must happen if they ever obtain a concussion. By doing this, the player is more informed of the risks of injury and the steps they have to take to either change the way they play, or simply dont play the game at all.
Equipment is also a major factor in dealing with concussions. The regulation helmet used in the NFL has gone through rigorous changes to keep concussions to a limit, but there is only so much you can do to prevent a concussion. What helmets do not do well is significantly slow down the contents of the skull when the head is struck and moved suddenly (Compton). The design of a helmet is made to prevent skull fractures not to prevent the fast impact of a hit to the head.
Although technology will probably continue to improve the quality of helmets in football, the brute force of a hit to the head can probably never be covered up by any sort of helmet. The discussion of banning football due to the high risk of concussions has been a topic of debate also. Although it is ultimately the decision of someone to do what they want, they might not know the full consequences of what theyre getting into. It is important to educate athletes on the full on risks of concussions and how serious they really. If the overall topic of concussions can be explained to athletes, then football can be that much safer.