How NFL’s Concussion Epidemic is Affecting Vista
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Senior Hunter Walls, a seventeen-year-old athlete, has struggled with head-injuries throughout his football career. Despite the doctor’s advice to stop playing football, parents and teammates continue to pressure him to play. Why would he risk depression and thoughts of suicide, all to play football?
“You are supposed to be tough. You are supposed to play through pain. You are not supposed to cry,” said Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson. “We are taught that early on in the game as kids. It’s like the gladiator. People want to see the big hits. They wind up on Sports Center. And as a player, you don’t want to admit you are injured.”
Due to the pressure from coaches and fans, players in the NFL don’t want to admit to when they get injured, especially when it comes to concussions.
A concussion is described as a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head. Most concussions occur without losing consciousness. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative disease of the brain and is associated with repeated head traumas like concussions.
The NFL has strict guidelines on how the team has to handle concussions; this policy is in place because of the new collective bargaining agreement. The guidelines on how to handle concussions is that the team neurologist has to evaluate the player.
If the player has any of the following symptoms, including but not limited to, imbalance, headache, confusion, memory loss, loss of consciousness, vision change, hearing change, mood change, and fatigue, the team neurologists take the player into the locker room for further evaluations.
The NFL has started a campaign to reach out to the younger players about the importance of tackling correctly along with proper care for a player that has received a concussion. This campaign has been labeled as the ‘Heads Up Football’ campaign. This campaign is designed to teach young players how to tackle properly and avoid tackling with the “crown” of your helmet.
The NFL has made huge steps to prevent concussions through informing players and making new rules; however, they need to look at the football players as a whole because the new rules to prevent hits to the head are leading to a slew of new injuries.
There are a lot more knee and leg injuries in the NFL now. These leg injuries are the outcome of new rules to prevent contact to the head. In order to avoid hitting with their heads players are hitting in the legs and this is leading to a lot of potential career-ending knee injuries.
Walls and other young athletes are being protected from concussions, but the NFL needs to consider the possible injuries that these new rules create.