This video shows all 288 reported NFL concussions in 2017

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I love football, but I often wonder if the price is simply too high for these young men. I know most of them would be willing to take the chance, but this concerns me.


A solution just occurred to me, and I’m wondering if it’s standardly proposed. We’re already putting accelerometers in these helmets at least sometimes. Make them required for league play, and bench for a while anybody who goes over some low G-force. The players will learn to avoid such situations. What am I missing?

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I think the challenge there is that you end up thrusting the player on the horns of a dilemma:

“You must play to win; your future as a player and team member depends on it,”


“Do not hit too hard or let yourself get hit too hard, even in the heat of a difficult play.”


The league censored this with Cooks in the Super Bowl - at least NBC cut away to avoid showing any indication that it was a concussion.

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I’ll pass on the video. I’ve seen this, though, which describes the early NFL response to this crisis:

As of last year, CTE has been found so far in 99% of former NFL players’ brains:

Some guys get lucky or something (more research is def needed here) and there seems to be little behavioral evidence of CTE, but some people seem so susceptible to this kind of damage it gets them horribly young. And it’s of course not just the NFL with concussion problems, there are hockey players for example who’ve racked up more concussions than anyone should ever have.


I’ve heard it suggested before that they should remove helmets entirely. The idea is that prior to thier introduction you would be less likely to hit people in the same ways that cause head injury today. Essentially the helmets gives players a false sense of security.

I really don’t see how that’s different from the current situation – play too hard and you’ll get concussed, so instead try to play up to but not beyond that. The differences are the actual cutoff level, and (I would imagine) the measurability. I’m picturing coaches saying “You’re allowed 5g [I’m totally making up this number], on my team I want all hits <4g for a cushion, on that hit you got 4.2g so tone it down some.”

Whew that was hard to watch. The NFL will not change because too much money is being made, and also because it’s primarily people of color being injured.

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I think the difference is that it’s a lot easier to disregard or set aside concerns about an ambiguous future. It strikes me as similar to the phenomenon where many sports stars end up bankrupt after their careers – while playing, they certainly have enough money to invest to keep them going for the rest of their lives, but something about the hypotheticalness of an ambiguous future interferes with that calculus.

On the other hand, if you tell a player “you will be benched if X happens” while simultaneously telling them “you will be traded if not-X happens” the dilemma gets a lot more acute.

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So tragic.

Plus, it just occurs to me now, instead of having to seriously injure an opponent to get them off the field you merely have to bang their helmet a bit. That’d change play a lot, presumably for the worse!

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I feel much the same. I have long ago concluded that boxing should not be a sport. I fear that the main reason that I haven’t come to the same conclusion about football is that I enjoy watching it much more than boxing, and not that it is markedly less damaging to the brains and bodies of those playing.


The first minute or so shows the players in reverse which detracts from the actual severity of impacts.

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About the only reason I can think of for considering boxing a sport is that it is better to have it legal and regulated than to have it illegal and unregulated.

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The best argument I think I’ve heard is to just drop football entirely and adopt rugby, a game similar enough to football that if you know the basics of football you’ll pretty much immediately be able to watch it, and, as far as I know, it has nowhere near the problems with brain injuries. The rationale I’ve heard from the latter is that rugby players don’t get to wear padding, and so there’s less proliferation of the sort of “here’s a 350 pound man running at 10 miles per hour, here’s a good 704 newtons for you” that football encourages.

There are better options. :wink:

The underlying ethos in the AFL rules is that almost anything is permitted so long as you are going for the ball. If you clobber someone because that’s what you need to do to get to the ball, fine. If you clobber someone just for the sake of clobbering them, or deliberately use more force than necessary, not so fine.

Because it involves big strong dudes running around at speed, collisions happen. The rules are designed to minimise contact with the head [1], but sometimes accidents occur and somebody gets concussed.
But that is a thing that might happen to a player a few times in their career. They are not slamming their heads together at every scrimmage.
[1] To tackle someone, you have to grab them between shoulders and hips; no tripping, no coathangers, no charging into their back. If you run into someone, you aren’t allowed to deliberately or negligently hit them in the head.

Sorry, I’m not quite seeing the problem? You say there are better alternatives but what’s below seems to describe pretty much what would be needed: a sport very much like football but where head injury is the exception and unusual rather than something to be expected. According to a quick search, there are 256 games in a football season. This is more concussions than games played, and it’s not cool. Rugby definitely has its own concussion problem, but it’s nowhere near on the scale of the NFL as far as I can figure. Of course I actively dislike football while I find rugby tolerable to watch (I have a thing about wasted time in sports, and rugby is far better,) so that may be coloring my perception.