Football is a celebrated sport in the United States, and its athletes are viewed as heroes. Many football leagues exist for children as young as five, and those talented enough to make it to the NFL can play in to their 40s. Given the hard hits and extreme aggressiveness of NFL football and the resulting head trauma many players endure, is the enjoyment of fans and excitement of the game worth the risk for NFL football players?
Many injuries plague NFL football players, and the most dangerous injury players face is one to the head. Head injuries are very common in football too, accounting for roughly 25% of all injuries incurred by players. NFL football players who experience head trauma strong enough to cause a concussion are put at great risks. Concussions are jolts or blows to the head that results in the brain being unable to function properly. Concussions can cause memory loss, slurring of words, balance problems, and many more difficulties in functioning. Repeated concussions can cause extensive long-term damage.
Retired NFL football players have been reported to experience more health problems than the general population. Studies have shown that retired football players suffer from dementia and memory loss at earlier ages and at greater extent. Depression has also been shown to be more prevalent in retired NFL football players than non football players. Players that have experienced three or more concussions are at the greatest risk for these complications later in life.
Football has been getting faster, stronger, and more dangerous as the sport progresses. Football players, especially in the NFL, are expected to play injured and last longer. Concussions are brushed off as part of the sport and many NFL football players are putting their future health at risk. Fans cheer for harder hits and aggressive plays that can lead to injuries. NFL football players push themselves above and beyond to win, please fans, and keep their place in the line-up.
Results of recent studies have forced the NFL to reevaluate their safety standards and procedures surrounding football players. Ways to make the game safer for NFL football players have begun to be studied and developed. In 2009, changes were adopted by NFL teams in an attempt to protect players on the giving and receiving end of hard hits. These small changes show the NFL’s willingness to make the game safer for their football players. The NFL, however, will probably not make any drastic changes to greatly reduce the number of injuries, as fans demand the excitement and aggression experienced during a football game. NFL football players will need to decide if the risk is worth the opportunity to play NFL football.
Sports Injury Bulletin http://www.sportsinjurybulletin.com/archive/head-injuries-football.html
Health Issues In American Football http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_issues_in_American_football
NFL News http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d80f6c090&template=with-video-with-comments&confirm=true
Medscape Today http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/558116_4