Football is religion for some here in the South, and many have staunchly resisted changes to the game. However, overwhelming evidence of concussions or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) among football players at all levels of the sport have led many to wonder if the sport has a future in its current form. Parents certainly now think twice about allowing their children to play contact sports like football. Moreover, there are lawsuits involving the NFL and the NCAA regarding what plaintiffs describe as exploitative behavior that is detrimental to the health of the athlete because of TBI issues.
New research published
New research in the medical journal JAMA looks at the Ivy League’s new rules of moving the kickoff to the 40-yard line and touchbacks to the 25-yard line. According to findings, the average of 10.93 percussions per 1,000 plays during kickoff dropped to 2.04 after the change, which translates into a 69 percent reduction. For comparison sake, kickoffs account for 6 percent of the plays, but 21 percent of the concussions because most players run full speed at each other during this play.
Preventing TBI is much easier than treating it
Many critics are concerned that altering or removing the kickoff brings the game one step closer to extinction (at least in its current form). Nevertheless, changes have already been made. In 2018, the NFL’s kickoffs start on the 35-yard line and the ball generally lands deep in or past the end zone. Teams are also incentivized to take a knee by placing the ball on the 25 yard-line. Other rules to lessen hard contact have also been instituted as well. Pop Warner football for children has even eliminated kickoffs entirely. The damage is long lasting
We have heard or read about many tragic stories of the life-changing nature of TBI. In a class action settlement in 2017, the NFL will likely pay more than a billion dollars to players and families for TBI injuries. It is crucial to seek medical help if adults or children show signs of TBI. Leagues are trying to make the game safer, but vigilance through a lawsuit on the part of the injured is the surest way to ensure that these changes will be made to protect athletes at all levels.