In the United States, the most watched sport by a large margin is American football. Although the game may be enjoyable to watch and generates 1.8 billion dollars a year, playing the game itself is dangerous. In a new study by Dr. Zachary Kerr, a professor at the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center, found that the number of concussions experienced by high school football players increased exponentially per year. This phenomenon is prevalent amongst college and professional football athletes as well. There is a plethora of injuries that a football player can suffer, but about 10 percent of these are concussions.
Concussions can cause a long-lasting effect on a player’s mental and physical health. BU researchers found that 99% of NFL players have been diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is caused by absorbing repetitive hits and injuries to the head. Some major side effects of this disorder include memory loss, depression, suicidality and progressive dementia. Studies have shown that 22% of high school football players get CTE, which has a high chance of causing severe mental trauma later in their lifetime. Those who have already suffered a concussion are more susceptible to having another. On top of that, 5 out of 10 concussions go unreported or undetected. This poses a serious threat to a player’s mental stability and their ability to continue playing the sport.
Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer stated that the rising number of concussions in the NFL is a “call to action” for all league officers responsible for the mental health of players. In a meeting held by the health and safety department of the NFL, they came up with a few ideas that would help increase the safety of the players such as using safer helmets, pointing out warning signs to teams and fixing the style of play. Thomas Mayer, the NFL medical director urged the NFL to provide concussion education and training to all coaching staffs all over the league so they can better understand the impacts of training drills and can proactively plan practice strategies to minimize the possibilities of concussions.
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Resnick, Brian. “What a Lifetime of Playing Football Can Do to the Human Brain.” Vox, Vox, 2 Feb. 2018, www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/2/2/16956440/super-bowl-2020-concussion-symptoms-cte-football-nfl-brain-damage-youth.
Seifert, Kevin. “NFL Doctor Says Rising Concussion Numbers Sparks ‘Call to Action’.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 28 Feb. 2018, www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/22603654/nfl-doctor-says-rising-concussion-numbers-sparks-call-action.