Is Playing Football Basically Committing Suicide?


| 13 Comments
Before I start, I just want to point out that in no way shape or form am I condoning that football is on par with committing suicide.  What I am hear to say is, that as a former high school football player, I know the ramifications of playing the game.  Injuries happen at every level, with the severity constantly varying.  One of the most severe and undertalked injuries is trauma to the head, know as a  concussion.  

As a player for the past 6 years including all of high school, I unfortunately received two concussions in my playing time.  The week after the 2nd one might have been the worst week of my life, but I can not really go into too much detail of it because to be completely honest I do not remember it.  Now, concussions are an extremely serious matter, an injury to the head, it can leave you if you're lucky only confused and/or dazed with memory loss, but in more serious situations it can lead to chronic brain damage which can ruin one's entire life.  
concussions 1.jpg

Now people say that concussions only happen as a result of "dirty players" or guys who don't follow the rules.  I am here to tell you from first-hand experience that, that is completely false.  Offensive and defensive lineman's job is to hit the other guy less than a foot away from them, constant helmet to helmet contact upward to atleast 70 times a game.  This constant impact to the head can slowly but surely be damaging one's brain. 
 
Results have shown, according to this CBS News Article these constant blows to the head for football players have been connected to brain damage in the latter stages of their lives.  This brain damage has been said to cause many negative effects including depression.  Depression was the main suspect in the Junior Seau death, which was said to be a suicide, took the life of a Hall of Fame caliber player way too early at the age of 43.  Unfortunately this is not uncommon for the lives of retired professional football players, as many athletes have been taken early from the world, or have been crippled drastically enough to hinder them from enjoying whatever is left of it.  

Much is being done to lower the frequency of concussions as player's safety is by far the most important aspect of the game.  In my next blog post I will go into detail of new rules, technology and other changes that are being made to better what is being done and if these methods are working or not.  Something to think about though, is football or any sport for that matter, worth taking the risk of possibly ruining your entire life?




13 Comments

I really like your blog post. Being a huge football fan and having many close friends who play football I have always wondered what the overall effect tackles will play on them later in life. I don't know if you've heard about it but some company (I can't remember who) is working to develop a more safe football helmet that can provide safety for extreme impact. However, I find it insane as to the fact that a football helmet is really a hard plastic shell with strategically placed padding. After watching this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zohDO3KSyRE it makes me both more afraid for my friends who play football and other football players, more intrigued by how far the football helmet has actually come, and more aware of how far helmet companies have yet to come to keep players safe.

I have to say until I received my concussions during football, I really had no idea of the dangers about the sport. Granted, it did not stop me from playing, but it did open my eyes to the possible consequences. My follow up blog post explains a newer helmet brand that I my high school team was able to try out. This helmet is now used widely around the football world in all levels.

I don't know if you read my initial blog post, but I am a Steeler football fanatic and this post makes me think of James Harrison's neck injury. Many say he has this injury because of the way he tackles, how he leads with his helmet like a spear. Regardless of the helmet, I think the true risk of injury lies with the tackle. It seems to me, if you tackle with your head first, like Harrison, you're prone to have more head/neck injuries. Although, the types of tackles change due to the heat of the game and the different positions. I don't think changing of the helmet design or other safety equipment will prevent these injuries, but changing the definitions of legal and illegal hits will. The only catch, the audience loves the football they see now with hard hits and swift tackles. The public doesn't want to change the rules and the players will pay for it in the end.

http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2010/10/01/measuring-the-impact-of-football-hits/

Really great topic choice here, especially as a fan of the Steelers who watches some of the more violent hits in the league on a week to week basis. Sometimes when I watch football, especially if the particular game I am watching is overly violent (think Steelers vs. Ravens), I start to really watch the players and their interactions with each other. Some players make a conscious effort to preserve themselves by ducking out of bounds, sliding to avoid hits, and generally playing with more awareness of their surroundings. Smaller players such as wide receivers are especially interesting because of their elevated risk of injury on a big hit. On the other hand, some players launch themselves at players, lead with their helmets, and generally disregard their safety as well as those around them. An interesting follow up discussion to your blog post and possible research assignment would be to study why some players play within the rules of contact and others choose to blatantly risk their own health.

Taylor, I agree with you that the tackle itself has a great deal to do with the concussion, we've all seen "bad hits" that make you cringe, so I have no doubt that a severe blow to the head has more to do than the technology. While on that topic, who is to say that the technology with the helmet would not better protect the player's head from the collision. Maybe it could lessen the effect it would have on the player, maybe not. That would be the research that went into a more expensive helmet to see if it actually helps the player more. I completely agree with you though on how the hit players a crucial role.

Aidan, very interesting thought on the latter part of your comment. It brings me back to the Saints "bounty" scandal from this past year. If that was said to be true, that would be an incentive for the players to risk their own health for a harder hit. I think a lot depends on the players mentality and reputation.

This is very interesting that you chose this topic because it is such a huge issue at the moment. In English 015 last year, I actually wrote all five of my papers on this issue and found it extremely concerning how dangerous concussions can be, as you stated. Also, on top of the suicide of Junior Seau, Dave Duerson, a former player for the Chicago Bears, also shot himself due to the mental problems he was experiencing due to football. His only got less coverage. And as for the Steelers fans above, I am also from Pittsburgh and it is very nice to see that our franchise is the first in the NFL to launch a program to teach kids the correct way to tackle. It was launched by Coach Tomlin to teach the future of the NFL to hit safely and inform them on the dangers of concussions.

This is great blog topic and could be reiterated further and more in-depth considering the NFL has switched gears to focus on player safety under the Roger Goodell regime. Beginning halfway through last season, the NFL mandated that every team was to have "concussion specialists" both down in the locker room and up top to help this new-found interest in concussion research in the aftermath of Junior Seau's death. Now when players suffer a concussion-like injury or are on the receiving end of a hit that causes them to get concussion-like symptoms, there is someone there to do a full protocol. The guy up top is able to watch the play and see how the incident occurred and the guy down below has to conduct a multitude of tests on the respective player before they are cleared to keep playing.

This article gives more information on the rule the NFL established on having concussion specialists:
http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22475988/33973088

Really wonderful blog topic. I have a brother plays D1 college football. As a family we are confronted with the dangers of the sport every time he goes on the field. Players can be seriously injured for life. Not only from concussions, but from other serious injuries. Lets look at Tulane's Devon Walker. After Walker's collision, he sustained a cervical spine fracture. He was carted off the field and rushed to the hospital. He needed to have surgery, but is now in stable condition. Accidents like this prove that every time you take the field, there is a chance you may not walk off.

Really wonderful blog topic. I have a brother plays D1 college football. As a family we are confronted with the dangers of the sport every time he goes on the field. Players can be seriously injured for life. Not only from concussions, but from other serious injuries. Lets look at Tulane's Devon Walker. After Walker's collision, he sustained a cervical spine fracture. He was carted off the field and rushed to the hospital. He needed to have surgery, but is now in stable condition. Accidents like this prove that every time you take the field, there is a chance you may not walk off.

Really wonderful blog topic. I have a brother plays D1 college football. As a family we are confronted with the dangers of the sport every time he goes on the field. Players can be seriously injured for life. Not only from concussions, but from other serious injuries. Lets look at Tulane's Devon Walker. After Walker's collision, he sustained a cervical spine fracture. He was carted off the field and rushed to the hospital. He needed to have surgery, but is now in stable condition. Accidents like this prove that every time you take the field, there is a chance you may not walk off.

Bryan, I also think it is a great thing what Coach Tomlin did in the program with teaching kids the right way to tackle. As a senior last year and a captain of my football team, four of us went down to the pop warner league and talked to all the players and did demonstrations on how to tackle safely and what the problems can be if that is not done. As this becomes a more wide-spread issue I think there will be greater programs in place for kids to be taught at a young age the forms and safety tips for tackling during the game of football.

Ross, as much criticism as the commissioner receives, I do think he is doing an absolutely great thing in what you have stated. Having an expert on concussions there for players right after the fact of the collision will be a huge asset to the NFL and to the players' safety. Sometimes before this was implemented coaches and trainers might rush a player back for the sake of the game. Now with the strict protocol like you stated, it is much harder for a player to return too soon after a concussion which fans and coaches might not like, but in the long run it will be extremely beneficial to the player's own health.

Brandon, I couldn't agree more. The amount of times I have had a best friend carted off the field during one of my games was terrible. Having said that, we all know the dangers of the game and we know that there is a chance we can get seriously injured. That is why all of these new rules are hoping to help prevent the injuries with the intent to keep the integrity of the game intact.

I think about this every time i see Michael Vick play. He is such a small quarter back compared to others in the league. He is also a quarterback that likes to run the ball a lot which causes players to tackle him more. He has changed his game a lot and stays in the pocket more often now but still gets hit pretty hard and it seems like he is always getting hurt. By the time he retires I really dont think he will be able to do much and its really sad when you think about it. Is it worth it? I understand that it supports his family but after football he probably wont be able to play with his kids and so forth because of all the injuries he has endured. Here is a link that I found on why eagle fans should be worried about his injuries.

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