With the season nearly over maybe it’s a good time to talk about this. Recently a judge ruled that the amount of money the NFL put aside for brain injuries will not be sufficient to meet the demand. I think the number they put aside was somewhere close to three-quarters of a billion dollars. I like to read between the lines sometimes and the subliminal message that I am getting, is both the NFL and the judge are acknowledging that there is a big problem with brain injuries to football players. It took us 100 years to figure out that when two human beings run full speed at each other and then collide they can hurt each other. So the NFL is saying to the players, there is a good chance your not going to have control of your thinking someday, due to getting banged around on the football field but to make it all right here’s some money so you can pay someone to think for you when that times comes. Common sense tells us this is not restricted to just professional football and it could happen at any level. Are schools and colleges going to set up similar accounts?
If you have a child today and you are proud of their athletic prowess on the football field, you need to ask yourself this question. Do you want to take the chance that someday this beautiful child of yours will not be able to tie their shoes or remember who you are and this may well happen when you are still here to experience it, or are the trophies, accolades and high fives worth the risks. Remember it’s already been proven to be a big problem. What’s the answer? I’m not sure. Americans have a love for contact sports and violence. The bigger the hit, the bigger the propensity to hurt someone — the more they like it. Maybe it goes back to the gladiators.
Safer helmets? I’m not sure they can make them much safer. Remember it’s not your head hitting the inside of the helmet that is the real problem. It’s your brain hitting the inside of your skull that’s causing the real damage. They can fix your head outside of your skull but they can’t fix what’s happening inside your head when they can’t see what’s going on in there. The real padding needs to be between the brain and the skull and I’m not sure how you do that. Years ago they had metal dashes in cars causing injuries so they padded them so when you smacked your head in an accident you would have some protection. Later they realized that the best way not to hurt your head was to belt you in so you couldn’t hit your head on the dash in the first place. So therein lies the answer. Quit smacking your heads together.
The sport is too big and too popular to change now. Some say if you change the rules to prevent such collisions you might as well play soccer. That’s the attitude of the real die-hard fans. Oh, there will be some concerned parents that won’t allow their children to play football. But in the long run there will always be players that will be our sacrificial lambs and go out there and get their brains scrambled.
I’m not advocating we get rid of football. I’m just saying let’s slow the game down to a pace where these violent collisions don’t happen. Use our heads for making the games safer. Not for battering rams.
MIKE HOLST is a Crosslake resident and an author.