Thursday, October 31, 2013

Violence in Sports


Yadier Molina with a concussion in June 2008

Why are we just becoming more aware of concussions and are the changes we’ve made as the result of this evidence on concussions too big? This is the question I am trying to answer. Recently (within the last 10 years), you hear more and more stories about concussions and how brutal they are. Brutal indeed, within the past 10 years the concussion rate in high school sports has increased by 16%! In the NFL the New Orleans Saints have been fined for rewarding players with money if they knock an important player out of the game. There are many reasons for this increase.

Within the past couple of years more head protection garments have been introduced. For example, in boxing, people who wear head gear are less likely to receive mental disabilities. "On top of that, the effects of getting hit accumulate fastest in the fighters who do without headgear." This means if boxers don’t wear headgear they are more likely to get brain damage. There are many more head protectors for sports like soccer and boxing, and for football, companies are making more padded and protective helmets. This is helping prevent concussions, but in a way, it is setting up a situation where they are more likely to occur. For example, in football, with more padded helmets people are more likely to tackle head first because it won’t hurt them. But on the other side, these people are hitting hard to the head creating more concussions for the receiver of the hits. This is similar to boxing. It used to be in boxing there were no gloves, so you did not want to punch to the head because you would hurt your fingers and possibly break them. “Helmets do protect against other injuries, like skull fractures, but there's no equipment that can guarantee lowering the risk of concussion”

Sports leagues have tried to decrease the amount of blows to the head. For example, James Harrison a linebacker in the NFL was fined $125,000 for illegal helmet to helmet contact last season. Even though the NFL is trying to limit these hits, they are still being sued by four former players because these players claim the NFL was “ignoring the fact that there could be long term brain damage as a result of hits to the head”. That was 3 years ago, and since then NFL referees have been penalty “flag happy” on dangerous tackles. There has also been a lot of research done on concussions to raise awareness to the general public. There is a research center in Las Vegas who gives boxers MRIs before and after fights trying to see if there is any damage and why some athletes can receive numerous blows to the head and not receive long term damage. So far athletes have been willing to participate in this program, and over 148 boxers have participated in this research. From this research we are learning the effects of fights on the athletes body.

From a different perspective the NFL is being too harsh in changes and the players just need to “man up”. Many people believe that the National Football league is taking the football out of football and that they should let the teams just play with no helmet to helmet contact rule. The players know what they are signing up for when they enter the league and that they are making so much money that it does not matter. This is a valid argument and it should be at least considered by the league. “But is football without kick-offs still football? No more dramatic returns for touchdowns. No more advantage or disadvantage to be won or lost by improving field position. No more exciting, surprising, game-changing onside kicks.” This quote is criticizing the league for taking kickoffs out of the pro bowl. The fans just want excitement and actions and with this change that also may be changed in the regular season will take out the excitement and the fans will not be happy at all. There is a fine line between safety of players and just plain ridiculous rules.

I believe that the changes we’ve made as the result of finding out about concussions are not too big. All of the sports leagues will eventually get fined (if they haven’t already) for knowing about the damage that these concussions in sports can cause. My friend received a concussion from soccer, he now wears protective headgear. Even though the headgear doesn’t completely stop the concussions I think he is very smart to wear the protection. Society has come a long way after learning about the long term damage of concussions and they have also been very smart to make the changes they have made.
Update: November 14, 2013
First, I would like to thank everybody who has read and commented on my blog. You guys gave me new ways of thinking and I have learned more because of you! I learned that many people have either had the experience of getting a concussion or someone close to them has suffered this terrible injury. I have learned how hard it is to recover from a concussion and how hard the struggle is to get back to one hundred percent. I also learned that getting a concussion is way more common that I originally thought, other than what I had heard on T.V. I had only known one person with a concussion. Now, after asking many people, I have learned that there are a lot of people in the community that have suffered a concussion and learning about their stories and roads to recovery was very interesting. It seems as though everybody agrees with my arguments and if anything, the opposing side is quite small. Some people did help clarify some things for me. For example, I had not heard of the help that many people offer and how the concussions affect the sleep patterns (one person once suffering a concussion slept 16 hours a day!). I did have to do some further research on how high school systems deal with kids who suffer concussions and found out that the colleges handle them a lot better. Overall, I really enjoyed this project and I want to thank you all for making it all so memorable!


  1. Hello, thanks for sharing your opinion on this important topic.I really liked how you went into depth with the facts of concussions from various sports. In your writing, you included information about boxing. Boxing seems like a dangerous sport, and I was wondering how many concussions boxers got before they had the protective headgear, and how many concussions they had after they got it. Many of my friends play sports, so I found your post very interesting. -Stephanie

  2. Hi Stephanie,
    Thanks for reading my blog! I have just found some very interesting facts while researching your question. Although during tests headgear may help it is counter intuitive in the ring. It makes boxers believe that because they have headgear on the cant get serious head injuries. This is false, but most boxers don't know this. They are now thinking although it might hurt the blows to the head will not result in serious brain damage and so now they are receiving serious injuries. So in a way the headgear is bad. Currently I have not found any factual evidence on head gear in matches. If I find any I will let you know.

  3. Hey Josh, I am glad you have brought up this topic because it is very important that we recognize the safety of athletes. I really like how you pointed out multiple sports that can cause concussions. I also have a friend that has gotten a concussion from playing a sport and it is very important that we recognize this. You have a very good point and your blog was very interesting. -Grace

    1. Hi Grace!
      Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog!

  4. Josh, you present a lot of great facts that offers your readers a quick analysis on the issue of concussions. I also appreciate how you offer both positions on the issue of concussions. Your conclusion logically flows from the information you report and it also let me know your personal position. I have a student who just experienced a concussion in volleyball and she has a terrible time staying awake (she's sleeping 16 hours a day!) and has many headaches. I hope the information you present motivates others to consider the importance of research on concussions to keep our athletes safe and free from life-altering effects.

  5. Hi Josh you bring up a great discussion about concussions. As a collegiate athlete that just experienced a concussion for the first time, I thought I would provide you with my perspective. I was confirmed concussed by athletic trainers and our team doctor after I had hit my head on the floor during volleyball practice. At first I thought I was fine, however I learned that the symptoms don't always appear right away and that they take time to develop, and develop they did. As stated by Ms. Houston, I was sleeping around 16 hours a day and experiencing headaches like I had never had before. The trainers assured me that this was normal and to continue, "resting" my body. I constantly was asking them when I could practice again and the answer I kept receiving was not until I was fully symptom free. This has probably been the hardest process for me, because in the morning I would wake up feeling like my normal self and then towards mid-afternoon the cycle would commence again. My trainers kept reminding me to continue to be honest with them about my symptoms and I have been the entire process. They really strongly urge this because if you let the brain heal correctly the first time, then there will be less issues in the future if a concussion happens again. I'm really grateful that our athletic program has a wonderful system set in place to monitor concussions and steer athletes on the right track so they do not end up hurting themselves more. I think if high schools had such a system like universities do, then concussions could be taken care of the proper way and fewer athletes later on in life would suffer from them. Because you are in high school I was wondering if you had any thoughts on this topic?

  6. Hi Anonymous,
    Thanks for your great comment! You had a concussion while playing volleyball? since then have you started to wear any headgear to prevent concussions? In high school we do not have as good of a system if the injured players can answer the questions they ask you during the "concussion test" without hesitating then you are fine and they send you back out onto the field. Is it much different in college?


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