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How Safety Concerns Are Dismantling Professional Football

Robert Dimuro

Posted on November 18, 2018 17:37

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Can America's most popular sport continue to exist in its current form and be enjoyable for future generations of fans?

As America’s most popular sport, football needs to take a hard look in the mirror as to what it has become. The sport has changed in more dramatic and significant ways than the advent of the shotgun formation or West Coast offense. Unfortunately, the NFL continues to rake in billions of dollars per year amidst all the controversy that it has generated - from rule changes, bad calls, kneeling for the anthem, etc.

As a result, Roger Goodell and the entire league are blind to the fact that the entire character of the sport is eroding before their very eyes. I can write all day about the complaints I have with the NFL’s current state of affairs, but one problem in particular may even cast doubt on professional football’s future existence as the contact sport we know it to be today.

The gravest problem afflicting the NFL today is the challenge of keeping the sport safe while also maintaining its intensity and enjoyability. This is becoming increasingly impossible as ongoing concerns for head safety are leading to stricter interpretations regarding unnecessary roughness. As a result of the NFL’s most recent rule change this year, any involvement with the head in making a hit is deemed a personal foul - awarding 15 penalty yards to the opposing team.

Although I’m deeply dissatisfied with these changes, I’m not attempting to downplay the serious safety concerns involved with playing a hard contact sport like football. Anyone who’s seen the movie Concussion understands the long-term implications of repeatedly receiving blunt force trauma to the head.

The medical term for this condition is CTE, which, in layman’s terms, means that the brain has been battered and bruised to the point that cognitive ability and emotional stability are permanently impaired. In the worst cases, CTE can lead to death and even suicide. Most notably, former tight end Dwight Clark, hall-of-fame linebacker Junior Seau, and even Aaron Hernandez were shown to have CTE upon analysis of their brain tissues, and the latter two committed suicide. In fact, countless players have received post-mortem diagnoses of the disease over time.

Football isn’t the only sport affected by this issue. As a result of the same type of head trauma that NFL players receive, heavyweight boxing has virtually gone extinct. Even the elusive Muhammad Ali succumbed to Parkinson’s Disease and suffered for decades because of his long career as a boxer.

A friend of mine with whom I was watching Concussion made a great point. He said that prospective athletes looking to play professional football simply have to make a decision about whether it’s worth the risk of living a hard and protracted life after retirement to reap the fame and riches that come with being an NFL player. I contend that, as years go by, more and more athletes will be aware of this risk, causing fewer and fewer of them to want to play football in the long run.

Robert Dimuro

Posted on November 18, 2018 17:37

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