The NFL is reviewing a hard hit made by James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers for possible punitive measures, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Another hit the day before left a Rutgers University player paralyzed from the neck down, according to The Atlantic Wire.
Mike Pereira used to be a football official, and told viewers on Fox Sports that a string of hits during Sunday’s NFL action were “cheap shots,” and the NFL should deal with this issue “immediately.” His reasoning is that once someone is injured with a severe concussion, often the damage has long-term effects.
Stop the Pain
Recent cases of hard hits are getting more and more attention. Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry became the first known current NFL player to die of chronic traumatic encephalopathy at age 26 in December of 2009, according to SportsMD. It is a brain condition caused by too many traumas to the head, and is the only form of dementia that is 100 percent preventable.
What is stunning about Henry’s case and others is that medical science has known what causes this type of brain trauma for decades, and yet not enough has been done to change the rules of the game to protect players. Football is a violent sport with hard tackles. Injuries are a part of the game, and protective equipment can only go so far in protecting players from chronic injuries.
Other hard hits leave players paralyzed. While those injuries are not as common as concussions to the brain, they are more immediately devastating to a human body than years of taking blows to the head. What do we need to change in order to prevent these horrific injuries?
We accept certain things about our modern society, even though it may cost us our lives. Even though being killed in a car accident is becoming less prevalent, we accept that getting behind the wheel and driving presents a risk that modern Americans are willing to take with their lives. The same is true about joining the military and playing violent sports-participants should already be aware of the risks before they put on the uniform.
American football is a part of our culture, and it won’t go away any time soon. In a gridiron where turf wars are measured in yards, it is better to knock each other unconscious than shoot at each other on the battlefield. For now, these violent hits and sports injuries are the lesser of two evils. I would rather have Americans play sports than kill each other with guns.
Bochette, Ed, “NFL to review Harrison hit”, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Gustini, Ray, “Was This Awful Weekend a Tipping Point for Football’s Head Shot Epidemic?”, The Atlantic Wire.
Zeigler, Terry, “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)”, SportsMD.com.