Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NFL, Concussions, and Headaches

If you watch football, you have noticed that year after year the players are faster, stronger, and hit harder. While this makes the game arguably more alluring, it also makes the game more dangerous. Faster, stronger players hitting each other at higher speeds with greater force takes its toll on bodies. This past weekend three huge hits drew nationwide headlines and indignant calls for action. The NFL levied fines against the three players and sent notice to all thirty-two teams that enforcement of illegal hits will be ratcheted up. That's fine, but as many have pointed out, how can the NFL regulate the violence in an inherently violent game? The game is predicated on tackling (not to mention, I don't think the hits were technically illegal anyway).

I remember questioning my football habit in middle school after witnessing numerous too-violent hits. After a couple of weeks off, I was back watching. I have wrestled with watching football a few times since, but always return to the game. This season seems like the first time there exists a significant groundswell of folks who, although aren't ready to turn their backs on the game, are cognizant of the danger to the players. Dave Zirin wrote an excellent article on the subject recently. One passage, concering fans' consumption of the game, rings particularly poignant: "With each passing week, I hear from football fans saying that it's getting harder to like the game they love. They've spent years reveling in the intense competition and violent collisions so central to the sport, but this is the first time these NFL diehards feel conscious about what happens to players when they become unconscious."

Like most fans, I will continue to watch, but I will also support measures taken to protect players. Browsing the Austin Public Library catalog I came across numerous sports injury books that have been revealing. Although not completely about head injuries, the following books are helpful in understanding the complexities of sports injuries.

Sports Injury Prevention

Sports Injuries Sourcebook

The Anatomy of Sports Injuries

Mild Traumatic Brian Injury and Postconcussion Syndrome

The Austin Public Library also subscribes to numerous databases with informative articles. I read several helpful articles found in the database Consumer Health Complete.

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