Hello everyone! Welcome to week three of my senior project journey. This post will be different than my previous posts. In my previous posts, I spend a lot of time analyzing data and research. This post will be me mostly ranting about the ineffective system the NFL has to protect players from concussions.
Like I have mentioned in my previous posts I watch a lot of sports. I have also mentioned that American Football has one of the highest concussion rates compared to other sports. The NFL season ended in February but talks about it go on all year. There are NFL talks almost on all social media platforms. I scroll through Instagram every day and I see numerous highlights from previous championship games. There are videos of highlights but there are also videos of injuries. Sometimes when I watch highlights of big hits on players in slow motion, it also affects me. I am caught off guard and I tend to sit back on my chair a little bit.
When a player gets hard hit to the helmet in the NFL, they go inside a blue tent. But, fans don’t know what goes on inside. Sometimes a player might come back after missing a few plays. Sometimes the player might leave the game. What determines which action should be taken? This week I studied the NFL’s concussion protocol. After a thorough evaluation, I can conclude that it is not so effective. The NFL concussion protocol is a five-step process. Step one is rest and recovery. Step two is light aerobic activities. Step three is more aerobic exercises and strength training. Step four is participating in football-specific exercises. Finally, step five is full football activity. Protecting players should be the NFL’s main goal. But, quite frankly it is not. Multiple examples prove my point. One of the trickiest points about concussions is that a player may not exhibit clear symptoms. In some cases, a player may not exhibit any symptoms. Concussions mostly do internal damage.
Russel Wilson is a quarterback who plays for the Seattle Seahawks. In 2016 he suffered a major blow to the head in his own endzone. He was taken out of the game. One thing that caught all the fans of the guard was the fact that he returned to play the game. We don’t know if there were X-rays down or any protocols taken. That uncertainty itself is problematic. It blows my mind that there hasn’t been a rule established stating that if a player receives a major hit to their helmet they can’t play the rest of the game. The concussion protocol should begin after they miss the rest of the game. The brain can always heal after the first concussion. But, if a player gets another concussion during the healing process then their brain will most likely never heal.
One of my main goals in this project is to find a viable solution to reduce the risk of these concussions. I am going to start by proposing the rule that I mentioned above. If a player receives a major blow to the head that is clear and obvious, then that player has to sit out for the rest of the game. I sound frustrated in this post because of the lack of clarity the NFL possesses. The NFL has to access the great doctors. It is not the doctors’ fault. It is the NFL’s fault for not making this issue the main priority. The NFL has even tried to suppress the fact that there are links between concussions and long-term effects after a career is over. Memory loss, dementia, and impulse control problems all are linked with head injuries.
Next week I am going to focus more on the composition of different helmets. I am going to evaluate different brands of helmets and see which ones are the best quality.