American football is a big time sport. Over the years, players have become bigger and stronger and injuries seemingly more severe.
I played Pop Warner football from about age 10 and then played through high school. Along the way, I was involved in a tackle that paralyzed a player, caused a number of concussions, and according to my coach was the hardest hitter for my size he had coached over three decades. In eleventh grade, I was “trap blocked” and the cleat on my right foot caught in the grass and my upper body twisted, tearing cartilage in my right knee. This led to a knee operation and months of rehabilitation. The next year I tore cartilage in my left knee, this time playing basketball, but the injury might have been the result of favoring my weaker right knee.
Looking back, I wish I’d never played football. Since my operations, I have had constant pain and difficulties exercising. I haven’t been able to ski like I did when I was a teenager. My physical activities have been drastically curtailed. I would rather have played a saxophone and socialized more. But that is all water over the dam.
As I watch football today at all levels, I feel the game is a bit barbaric. My worst fear, not yet realized, but inevitable I think, is that a player will lose his helmet, a frequent occurrence these days, and be hit full force in the head by the helmet of a tackler who isn’t able to stop his momentum; it will be an immediate gruesome death that will be seen by everyone.
National Football League, GE & Under Armour Challenge
All this said, the game may be salvageable if better equipment becomes available. Organizations with the most “skin” in the game, the NFL the leader among them with the most to lose, have sponsored a series of “Head Health Challenges” to search for solutions to help prevent, measure and detect brain injuries.
The first two challenges were Head Health Challenge: 1) Challenge I – Methods for Diagnosis and Prognosis of Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries, 2) Challenge II: Innovative Approaches for Identifying and Preventing Brain Injury, available here. Round One Awardees for Head Health Challenge I were announced on January 23, 2014. Round One Awardees for Head Health Challenge II were announced on November 13, 2014.
Head Health Challenge III
Information about Head Health Challenge III can be found here. The deadline is March 13, 2015, and a total of $2 million will be awarded.
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References and related content:
- How NFL Concussion Lawsuits Could Affect Schools, Youth Sports – Schooled in Sports – Education Week
- Testimony of Jeffery Miller, National Football League, Hearing on “Improving Sports Safety: A Multifaceted
- Approach,” Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade (March 13, 2014)
Football Turns to Helmet Technology to Tackle Head Injuries