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April 2, 2016

The NFL, Football And CTE

by Larry Leek

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy better known to the NFL as concussion’s or other related head injuries. 

Since CTE and it’s connection with the NFL has surfaced in light of recent former NFL player’s deaths, that the sport and the violence that comes with it, according to recent studies is believed to put players at risk of getting the disease later and maybe even early in life, depending on the extent of impacts to the head over the course of their career.

CTE has all but became a nightmare to the sport in numerous ways, where some players have actually retired early in their career just because of the risk and others like former All-Pro’s Dave Duerson (who committed suicide in 2011, by shooting himself in the chest and donating his brain to research and was later diagnosed with CTE) or Jr. Seau who committed suicide in May of 2012 and though no studies ever confirmed that CTE was in any way the reason Duerson or Seau took their lives, CTE is however believed to be linked to depression which of course can be a reason someone commits suicide also many players become depressed after retiring from the game, having a hard time adjusting to life after football. Both Duerson and Seau were known to have had a hard time dealing with that, so it’s impossible to determine exactly why these two and others have chose to take their own lives.

As the NFL as well as other football organizations like the NCAA all the way down to Pop Warner Leagues try to convince parents that football is still okay for their kids to play, if played properly, cutting down on more serious injuries, though not completely. There are other organizations that are even going as far as to try and make it illegal for kids to play football before high school.

In fact Pop Warner, which is the nations largest youth football organization in the country, they saw a decrease in youth participation from 2010 to 2012 by 9.5%. The number of signups decreased from 248,899 to 225,287 after CTE became an issue and the numbers participating have been on a steady decline each year since.

A heads up program was started by the NFL for youth football leagues, to teach kids the new techniques developed by the league to protect from head injuries, but even with that the declining trend in youth participation continues. Football and Injury have always and will always be associated more so than any other sport of course because of it’s violent nature so are people over reacting about CTE, is it as common as some believe or are the cases lower? Time and research must still be done before a definite answer can be derived.

So are there other ways or things that the the NFL and other leagues can do to stop the trend that could one day bring an end to its longtime dominance as the country’s most popular sport?

This Is Whats On My Sports Mind about this subject:

I guess when I look back at my own life as a kid, I was pretty rambunctious and as far as how many times I banged my head or actually head butted someone or someTHING. I’d have to honestly say it didn’t effect, effect, effect me any.

Honestly CTE is NO joke and certainly nothing for the NFL to sneeze at and they haven’t for sure. In fact they have donated billions towards researching CTE, but to this Sports Mind I feel that more could be done and more $$ should be spent on research, utilizing today’s technology towards improving the equipment players wear, particularly the helmet.

Of course I’m sure the NFL is exploring all venues towards finding answers about as well as the prevention of CTE but I think one MAJOR KEY could be found researching “Impact Absorption”.

Even though I am the owner and editor of Whats On Your Sports Mind, in my full time career I am a CEI Inspector, where I mainly inspect new bridges while under construction.

One product thats used on all bridges in order to prevent the concrete used to construct these bridges (4000 PSI concrete) from cracking into pieces is a product known as elastomeric.

Elastomeric is a rubberized type of material made with other components as well thats main purpose is “Impact Absorption”.  It is placed between the bridge deck/beams and the cap or pier, (the component that the deck rest’s on). It is placed between these two components in the form of bearing pads and these pads absorb the shock/impact of vehicles as they contact the bridge surface, in most cases at high rates of speed and if you think two NFL players colliding is an impact, try having them collide with a slab of 4000 PSI concrete and lets see if they can make it crack to pieces My Sports Mind AND Senior Bridge Inspector Mind will tell you NO WAY possible.

Just how tough is 4000 PSI concrete you may ask? A very strong person can pound on an 8″ thick slab with a sledge hammer and find it to be near impossible to crack.

Even thou Elastomeric is a heavy substance, when used for bearing pads and would be too heavy to make helmets using 100% of the material, however a percentage of it could always be incorporated into the design of the helmet and you can be sure it would help cut down on the head injuries incurred from head to head impacts by doing what it does best (Impact Absorption) or at least this ole Sports Mind believes it COULD make a HUGE difference.

Another idea this old Sports Mind had concerning improvements to the helmet would be to add a shock absorbing systems near to the shocks installed on vehicles, especially when you consider how much smoother a vehicle rides with vs without them. NOBODY could ever convince this Sports Mind that if these football organization’s, (in particular the NFL since they probably have the most to invest and LOSE over time IF nothing is done) should research these or other similar ideas focused on improving the overall design of the helmet an answer just may be found.

Imagine the possibilities of cutting out 99% of all head injuries by solely improving the design of the helmet.

How much would injuries be cut by simply incorporating Elastomeric into the composition of the helmet and/Or by adding a shock absorption system of some kind to it? Well unless an attempt is made to improve the helmet itself by making it much safer and shock absorbent than it currently is and where this Sports Mind happens to believe could very well be the KEY to  dramatically cutting down on OR the prevention of CTE, we will never know.

So Whats On Your Sports Mind about this subject?




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