The NFL has made some tweaks to their concussion policy, but will this really mean fewer concussions?
Regardless of how safety-minded a particularly player, team or even league may be, professional and amateur sports that involve physical contact between opposing participants always includes some level of inherent risk.
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In order to alleviate some of the flak and silence some of their own critics, the NFL has recently implemented a brand new concussion policy for the upcoming season. But is this an actual change that’s meant to preserve the health of players, or is the new policy simply being leveraged as a placebo meant to silence a very vocal audience of critics?
Weighing the Pros and Cons of the New Policy
According to the NFL’s new and improved policy, teams and coaches will now be punished, through various fines and draft pick forfeitures, for failing to remove a player from the field following a head injury. Typical fines are expected to range from $50,000 to $150,000 per incident. Additionally, the NFL's commissioner, Roger Goodell, has the power to impose further penalties as he sees fit.
However, as pointed out by sports critics and fanatics alike, the new rules might not be so effective after all. Since many players will try to hide or downplay a serious injury in order to remain in the game, and since others have been specifically trained to avoid contact with medical personnel whenever possible, the new concussion rule certainly requires the individual to admit to their injury in the first place.
Others, including Cincinnati Bengals' head coach, Marvin Lewis, believe that the majority of teams will be relatively unaffected by the change. Lewis, as well as the owner and president of the Bengals franchise, Mike Brown, supported each other's sentiments that their team, and most other teams in the NFL, are already doing everything they can to prevent on-field injuries.
Setting an Example for Our Youth
While the new concussion policy is certainly a step in the right direction, it's difficult to predict whether we'll see any sort of improvement on the total number of concussions suffered by modern athletes. If nothing else, however, it certainly serves as a great example for our youth sports programs around the country, which boast approximately 30 million adolescent participants. Youth leagues are doing more to help too, from having less contact during practice to helmet liners like these ones that give an added layer of production in the already advanced football helmet.
Although the NFL's new concussion policy won't eliminate the risk altogether, either for professional or youth sports, it can serve as a key stepping stone to other policies and improved standards. Given the fact that youth sports often try to mirror their professional counterparts, either through team names, strategies or even logos, moves like this can go a long way toward ensuring the integrity of sports for years to come.
Preserving the Future Success and Health of Our Athletes
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Whether you're a sports fan or a critic, we can probably all agree that safety needs to remain at the top of our priority list when it comes to amateur and professional sports. Although the NFL's newly updated concussion policy paves the way for future rule modifications and policy revisions, many believe their recent efforts are coming up short.