Just as it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the turkey and pumpkin pie, it wouldn’t be February without the Super Bowl. Although it’s not officially a recognized holiday, football is so ingrained in the American culture that it might as well be. As the season reaches its end, many critics are posing the question: “Has football become too dangerous?” In light of the season’s plethora of injuries, from torn muscles to concussions, many are realizing the intrinsic aspect of the sport. However, how dangerous is this sport, really? Juniata’s athletic trainer, Jeff Leydig, discusses injuries in this American pastime.
How dangerous do you think professional sports, such as football really are?
All the major medical societies in sports have been aware of the intrinsic danger for years. It’s just in recent years that mainstream media has started to focus on the danger and make the general public aware. I think it’s important to realize that any sport at any level has an aspect of danger. Our science, technology, and knowledge have come a long way in recent years in reducing this danger. However, we are so much more aware now of the danger of concussions and the like. Even if someone looks okay to play, this is not always the case.
Do you think football is more dangerous now than it used to be?
For one thing, the players are so much bigger than they used to be. At one point it was rare to have a player over 200 pounds; now it is very common. Also, the conditioning is more intense. At that level, with that kind of athleticism, there are going to be injuries. Yet, we wouldn’t watch the game if it wasn’t for the great plays and the big hits. However, a lot of time is put into making the equipment that they players wear safer – the helmets, for example, go through so many tests in order to reduce the impact of big hits. Overall, because of our knowledge of concussions and technology to reduce the impacts, the sport has probably become safer.
What needs to change?
Ignoring the symptoms. Although this is no longer as common, it still happens. Athletes need to communicate with their coaches and teammates when they have a problem. A headache that lasts for a few days is not okay. We are definitely going in the right direction with this.
How can athletes protect themselves?
Learn the proper techniques. In any sport, proper technique will reduce all kinds of injuries. We are teaching our athletes at a younger age how to do things correctly. Athletes must always wear the proper equipment. I would suggest that athletes know the symptoms of a concussion and communicate how they feel to someone so that they can get proper treatment.
-Elizabeth Roberts ’10, Juniata Online Journalist