The Blazer

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The Blazer

The Blazer

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Down with helmets, up with Scrum Caps

On+the+left+a+modern+football+player+with+the+full+helmet%2C+on+the+right+a+vintage+photo+of+a+football+player+with+a+scrum+cap

As the NFL season begins in earnest, just as the ugly mugs of the offensive linemen turn towards the defense, so too does the ominous threat of injuries turns towards us. The one that is by far the most numerous and the most threatening is concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.) that can result from them. While the league has added more pads, penalties, and advanced helmets to stem the tide, could it be that these efforts are having an adverse effect?

It may sound counterintuitive, but the trend towards more body armor and bigger helmets may not be making the game safer. It has been discovered that despite new penalties and incentives, football players are hitting as hard as ever as the amount of yearly concussions have stayed well above 200 since the NFL began collecting comprehensive data in 2012. 

It turns out that when your average linebacker sees opponents coming at him with more and more protection while he himself is becoming more tank-like, he’ll be less inclined to hold back because of this false perception.

Helmets are an even worse offender of this. While modern day plastic helmets prevent the occasional bruise or cut, it has proven completely inept in preventing concussions. Perhaps no amount of protection can help prevent concussions. No matter how much padding you have on the instead of that bucket, our Jell-O like brains will still twist, turn, and bounce against the inside of our heads. 

What is needed is a complete change in how tackling and protection is done. Some teams have encouraged rugby-style tackling, but that won’t be enough to turn the tide. 

Helmets need to be replaced by caps that offer protection against bruises, but do away with the perception of overprotection. Padding needs to be reduced and tackling techniques need to be changed in order to prevent hard collisions. Changing our approach to protection isn’t controversial, it’s common sense.

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