Football is a violent sport. On any fall Sunday in America, coaches, announcers, players, and analysts describe the game in terms of war. Teams “go to battle” with aerial or ground attacks and “blitz” the opposing quarterback. Passes are described as bullets or bombs. The verbal violence is reflected on the field, as injuries are commonplace and range from broken or dislocated fingers to torn ligaments to concussions and spinal injuries.
There has been a dramatic improvement in some news reporting on the severity and impact of concussions and serious brain injuries in hockey but journalists shouldn’t get carried away patting themselves on the back, according to a study of coverage in four North American newspapers.
Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, says in a study of selected news coverage over the past 25 years that there’s plenty of room for improvement regarding the print media’s coverage of the issue.
“The accuracy of medical information is pretty good, let’s say a B-plus or A-minus,” Cusimano said. “In terms of being action oriented towards making the game safer, I hold people to a higher standard and I would give a C-plus or a B-minus.
Scientists researching the effect of concussion on the brain claim that rugby’s authorities are in a state of denial about the ‘almost incontrovertible’ evidence of a link between repeated concussion and the development of degenerative conditions.
In a pioneering study, Dr Michael J Grey, reader in Motor Neuroscience at the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, and Tony Belli, a consultant neurosurgeon at the city’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, are investigating the state of the brain after a concussion using cutting-edge technology funded by the British Medical Association and the National Institute for Health Research.
Having already undertaken research into the effects of traumatic brain injuries in sportsmen and women, they are alarmed by rugby’s refusal to admit that repeated concussion can lead to long-term brain damage.
Manny Lawson has a vivid recollection of his most serious concussion.
That’s only because it was captured on film. What he recalls is seeing it later on videotape, and being stunned by the image. It’s the most terrifying movie he’s ever seen, his personal “Halloween.”
Lawson, the Bills veteran linebacker, was with the Niners at the time. As he was making a tackle, another player’s leg crashed into his helmet. Six plays later, he walked off the field and told someone, “I don’t remember anything that just happened.”
“League of Denial” PBS documentary is a cautionary tale for every parent, and should give pause to every NFL fan
The film concluded at 10:53 Tuesday night, and almost instinctively Harry Carson reached for his phone to text his daughter. His mind was on his grandson, Kellen, who turns 4 this weekend.
“Now do you get it?” Harry thumbed at Val, one of his three adult kids. “Now do you have a full understanding why the young man must not play football?”
The system is supposed to work. A player is watched by not only a team’s medical staff, but also the officiating crew, a specialized observer up in the booth with the replay official and the plethora of cameras that show every angle of every play.
When any of these people spots a possible concussion, an independent neurologist on the sidelines will conduct a series of tests and determine whether a player needs to be taken off the field or if he’ll return to the game.
Except that’s not how it works at all.
They hoped the $765 million deal between the league and the former players who claimed the NFL withheld information about the long-term effects of concussions would buy silence from the daily drumbeat of depressing stories of damage suffered by players. Fans perhaps hoped the guilt they may feel every time they hear of another former deceased gridiron hero’s brain being sliced open looking for answers to the end of a short and tortured life would now disappear.
In the wake of the NFL’s settlement of the first class action concussion lawsuit brought by former players over brain trauma, much has been declared and yet little has been clarified for those seeking to determine the concussion risks of playing sports. In May 2012, Kurt Warner went on record as saying that he wasn’t sure he’d want his sons to play football.The hailstorm of criticism he faced from colleagues was at once shocking and predictable. That former players like Merril Hoge would be so conditioned to defend the NFL that they accused Warner of throwing “the game that has been so good to him under the bus” is heartbreaking.
The NFL has been trying to make football safer through more player safety rules, research on better protection and teaching better techniques for playing. Of course, no change happens overnight.
USA Today examined the NFL’s shift in culture in light of helmet-to-helmet hits from Washington safety Brandon Meriweather and Dashon Goldson’s suspension for violating safety rules. It concluded that change is a slow process that includes a lot of education.