Social Question

6rant6's avatar

How can football be made less damaging?

Asked by 6rant6 (13672points) February 9th, 2010

There’s a lot in the press these days about the dangers of football (American) and specifically repeated concussions. The game has evolved in the past to deal with too many injuries – the forward pass was football’s way of dealing with Teddy Roosevelt’s ultimatum to reduce injuries. And a lot or rules have been changed to prevent the intentional injuring of quarterbacks.

What rule change would you propose to deal with head injuries?

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41 Answers

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I liked it better when football players weren’t expected to even have brains, and we didn’t have to worry about them.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I feel like the players get into the sport knowing the dangers, do they not? Like boxers who know they’re going to have half their brain left once their career is over. If they’re okay with the consequences, the game shouldn’t be changed. Aren’t they already using the best helmets available? If they are, you’d have to change the aggression aspect and people wouldn’t be into that, heaven forfend.

6rant6's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Well, like I said, the game has changed before.

Two things are different now. Most importantly, we recognize the damage done by repeated trauma, however small. Second, the level of impact has increased as other parts of the players are protected better.

It seems a little “baby with the bath water” to just write off the sport for most people. Keep in mind that the majority of people susceptible to this risk are high school students and there is no way you’re going to convince them that their future health is more important than improving the chance of getting laid Saturday after the game.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@6rant6 okay, granted. you can’t convince ‘em. but it’s no easier to convince adults that aggression should be curbed, esp. for teens. this is a good q.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

If they start suspending players for an entire season’s worth of games (16-game suspensions) for some deliberate infractions (spearing, hitting a guy when he’s down or far out of bounds or crushing tackles of leaping and otherwise helpless players) then some of the roughness will be reduced, because
A. the players doing that won’t be doing it for the next 16 games, and
B. the others will get the message.

Val123's avatar

Really…I think a social agenda has started that has made football into a negative thing. Hopefully parents will start guiding their kids into less damaging sports in the near future.

MrGV's avatar

I think we should bring back the good ole football. It’s a man sport; if you are scared to get injured then don’t play.

Val123's avatar

On a side note, I’ve been paging through a chronological history of the 20th Century when ever I teach in this one school. In the years 1912, 1913 and 1914 they had 12 to 15 deaths from football every year. It sort of seemed to be expected then.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MrGeneVan yeah, there’s a nice attitude – do men not have brains that they want protected?

MrGV's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Anything is worth sacrificing as long as you are happy at what you are doing even if it means that I have a chance of dieing or being in a wheel chair for the rest of my life.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MrGeneVan well if you read my first comment, that’s what I was advocating for – if you are aware of the consequences, fine…but @6rant6 had a good point about teenagers not having the foresight to consider their decision.

Val123's avatar

I agree with @Simone_De_Beauvoir Adults making those life threatening decisions is one thing. Pushing teens into it is a whole other ball game. (Pardon!)

6rant6's avatar

@CyanoticWasp As pointed out, this isn’t just or even primarily an NFL issue. The worst damage occurs to the lineman. So it’s not about flagrant fouls, just the “ordinary” pounding.

@Val123 Those deaths were why Teddy Roosevelt threatened to ban the game. The NCAA came up with the forward pass to rectify this. Isn’t the game better off for that?

@Val123 If we have football in high school aren’t we implicitly telling kids it’s safe to play?

Val123's avatar

@6rant6 I was just pointing out something I’d learned. It’s also when they started coming up with hard shell helmets instead of just leather shells. So, sure, the game is safer, but at what expense?

Per the last. Well, society and the schools may be implying that it’s safe, and that’s where the parents need to step in. If they think their kids want to play sports, they can direct them to soccer or golf or basket ball from an early age. The kids don’t enroll themselves in pee wee football, you know! If enough parents do that, hopefully the schools will get the message, and start focusing on real futball (soccer) instead of violent American football.

galileogirl's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir In fact most people get into football when they are pre-teens or teens. At that point in their lives they have no concept of what bad things can happen to someone who gets his bell rung. Rather they are more likely to be more aggressive, trying to emulate that 350 lb pro. You would expect parents and coaches to protect their young charges. Instead players are urged to downplay their injuries and look at pro ball as an acheivable goal.

@Val123 It was pointed out in Time last week that the “improved” helmets may actually cause more/dangerous injuries. Assuming they are protected, players go for head on contacts. While they may have fewer fractures, there are more spinal and internal brain injuries because of inertia. While the skull comes to a fast stop, the brain keeps on moving, causing damage from bruising/bleeding.

Touch football used to be an alternative that allowed a game without the injuries.

Val123's avatar

@galileogirl I think it’s all bad I’m glad that the dangers are coming to the forefront. Maybe those parents who have the bright idea of enrolling their seven year olds in pee wee football will start getting some flack for it and they’ll pursue other areas.

6rant6's avatar

@Val123 Sorry, slipped trying to climb onto your bandwagon. Yes, I agree with what you said.

TehRoflMobile's avatar

To tell you the truth, the elimination of pads good do some help.

Pads just encourage harder hits and more carelessness. When someone isn’t wearing pads they are less likely to throw themselves head first at someone.

I don’t know much about Rugby but you don’t see as many truly dangerous hits because the hitter has to worry about their pain as well.

Val123's avatar

@6rant6 O dear! Were you wearing your helmet?! Did you hurt yourself? :)

6rant6's avatar

@TehRoflMobile Yes, and the dentists LOVE rugby. Two rugby players are enough to put one of their kids through a year of college.

TehRoflMobile's avatar

Is teeth comparable to life ending brain injuries?

6rant6's avatar

@TehRoflMobile I am absolutely certain they have concussions and brain injuries. Teeth do not go gently into that goodnight.

6rant6's avatar

@TehRoflMobile
Someone else thinks so too…

“Concussion In Rugby Appears To Be Hidden Epidemic, Researchers Say”
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011011065700.htm

Tenpinmaster's avatar

Make the players not hit each other, or pad them up so much they wouldn’t be able to catch the football.. just run into each other like mattresses.

6rant6's avatar

@Tenpinmaster That sounds like a fun game to watch! Human pinball, maybe?

TehRoflMobile's avatar

I’m not denying that Rugby has concussions. Like I said, I know very little about Rugby, but you see less insane head to head tackles. Most tackles are around the waste to get the guy down.

Maybe my argument is hopeless, but I feel more pads is not better.

6rant6's avatar

@TehRoflMobile You’re right, the “more protection” approach got us here in the first place.

It’s pretty clear the game isn’t going to go away. Even if a minority of enlightened parents steer their kids clear…

So what can they do?

Tenpinmaster's avatar

@6rant6 lol! That would be crazy

Thats one thing they were talking about on this news program though about protection for the NFL players. Though no matter how much protection they have, the amount of force being absorbed in their body after impacts makes it hard to really make the sport safe. I don’t think they could get the equipment any safer without compromising agility

TehRoflMobile's avatar

@6rant6 We could accept that football players will have lower life spans? It sounds extremely cruel but not everybody can live to 80. You can’t expect to go throwing your body (and head) around on a day to day basis and still be perfectly healthy. Same goes for hockey, boxing, soccer (to a point, many of my friends have concussions through soccer), rugby, maybe even greco wrestling.

Why should we expect football players to live just as long as an accountant? It isn’t like we are forcing them to play.

Val123's avatar

@TehRoflMobile I think the crux here is kids are being encouraged to play by their parents, starting when they’re 6 and 7 years old. Why would you do that to your child?

TehRoflMobile's avatar

@Val123 I have no clue why a parent would do that. Maybe to live out the life they never had?

I’ve been lucky, my parents have never pushed me to do anything I didn’t want to do(except school). I’ve developed my likes and dislikes all on my own. I play Soccer and do Track and Field, both of which my parents never did as kids and new very little of.

6rant6's avatar

Let’s not forget that our schools put MONEY into football instead of, say, theater, or computers, or science. How sad is that? Pretty unreal to say to kids, “Oh, football is bad for you, and if you want to do something else… uh.. you can join the pep band!”

galileogirl's avatar

The excuse for supporting contact sports in hs is that is the only way to get some of the kids to come to school. The reality is they may come to school and scrspe out a C for the 1st grading period so they qualify but the season is over before the 2nd report card is out so they just blow off classes.

Val123's avatar

@TehRoflMobile I think you misunderstood…..some kids are really interested in sports and don’t need to be “forced” at all. What I meant was, why would any one enroll their kid in something like football, knowing the changes of their son getting severely injured someday? Same thing with boxing. I couldn’t live with the guilt. Enroll them in basket ball or soccer or something…

Dr_C's avatar

The way to reduce head injuries is to improve helmet technology. Not making up more and more rules against contact. The way things are going soon players will be fined for giving the QB a mean look. If you don’t like the contact play flag or watch the game from home!

6rant6's avatar

@Dr_C I’m taking it you didn’t bother reading anything here. Or anything anywhere for that matter.

Football players (from prep to pro) live with the burden of UNNOTICED head trauma – memory loss, depression, early death, that kind of thing. It’s widespread and devastating. It doesn’t make sense for SOCIETY to accept that kind of outcome. If you think nothing is going to change, you’re not thinking clearly (you played football I’m guessing).

The question is WHAT is going to change.

Dr_C's avatar

@6rant6 I read the comments on the thread. Please don’t confuse the fact that I disagree with my not having paid attention. You guessed correctly, I did play quite a bit of football and took many hard hits. Many people have and have come through unscathed. It’s true many players have experienced long term effects related to physical trauma, But they went into the sport they loved willingly and knowing the risks. This is a sport that is not going to be banned or outlawed because of the possibility of negative effects.

Many people die every day and suffer long term pain and complications related to automobile accidents, motorcycles, sky diving, surfing, fishing… the list goes on. These things aren’t outlawed. Instead people develop newer technologies to make them safer.
If you read the first statement in my post i mentioned improving helmet technology, which I feel is a step in the right direction.

So please… next time you feel like taking a shot at someone and assuming they didn’t read every post because they disagree with you, try reading their post first.

Having played football does not diminish your IQ or reading comprehension… I managed to get through Med school just fine, I think I can handle getting through the comments on this thread

end rant

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@6rant6 I myself answered the question that was asked. There are ways to reduce injury, from changing rules of the game to changing the technology that is employed to play it, from helmets, uniforms and padding to the surface itself. (Personally, I think playing more games on natural grass—and mud—slows it to an extent that would reduce a lot of the bone and joint injuries, but it wouldn’t be the artistic—and fast-moving—spectacle that it can be so often on artificial surfaces.)

But it’s not up to SOCIETY to decide what is and is not “acceptable injury” from the sport, as long as it’s not intentionally inflicted. (Or else hockey would have been outlawed decades ago.) At least, in a “free” society it shouldn’t be. People do things every day, from eating and drinking to extreme sports and sex, that risk their bodies, their long and short-term health, and even their lives. Including driving to and from work every day. The society that regulates safety to the n th degree won’t be worth living in.

6rant6's avatar

@dr_c & @CyanoticWasp

There is nothing sacred about the rules of football. They have been changed before and the game was improved. What’s so difficult to accept about that? I am not talking about removing violence from the game. Clearly, you wouldn’t have that. But what’s wrong with actually addressing the problem instead of macho posturing?

It’s not true that boys have gone into the game knowing the long term effects. That is news.

The attempt to reinforce one part of the body only results in more damage to others. That, in part, is what’s happened to heads.

Traumatic brain injuries for your enjoyment… It’s not okay. It’s wrong. It’s stupid. It’s expensive for the rest of us. It will be changed.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@6rant6 I agree that the rules aren’t sacred, and that they will change. What I questioned / objected to was your statement that “it doesn’t make sense for SOCIETY to accept” ... as if the rules of the game are going to be changed in Congress or the UN.

The rules will be changed; there is little doubt about that. But they’ll be changed where they should be changed, in the organizing bodies for each entity that makes up rules for the game. That is, the NFL, the NCAA, high school athletic rules committees, Pop Warner and other such bodies. Those people generally aren’t fools, and traumatic (and permanent or semi-permanent) head injuries and the like to their players aren’t acceptable to them, either—or to the players themselves or their parents!—once they understand the data.

6rant6's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Just a clarification…

My point about society not accepting the risk is that we end up taking care of the injured. And as MOST of them are children, uneducated and ill-placed to make well reasoned decisions, I do not think it’s appropriate for publicly funded institutions like schools (or for that matter corporate interests) to be allowed to encourage them to risk their health for other people’s entertainment and/or corporate profits.

As for the idea that the data is not in or not clear or hasn’t been seen… get real. The NCAA will make a change when they damn well feel like it… or when someone coerces them. Let’s not forget the forward pass!

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