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Super Bowl Coverage And the Concussion Issue

Better late than never. The NFL seems to have finally figured out that its sport’s future depends on protecting its most important asset, the players. It may be a little naive, but from this perspective, it seems that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell really gets it. Concussions involve brain injury. Brain injured players aren’t very good players and have lots of problems after they retire.

With the Super Bowl just hours away from starting, Goodell told “Face the Nation” Sunday that the league was still studying ways to make the game safer and cut down head injuries in particular.

Goodell said that the so-called “three point stance,” where players square off with one hand on the ground, could eventually be barred, according to a New York Times story on his interview with Bob Schieffer. The article was headlined “Commissioner Stresses New Culture of Safety.”

On the “Face the Nation,” Goodell said that for years “the culture” at the NFL was that concussions weren’t serious injuries.

“I think we have changed that culture and made sure that people understand they are serious and they can have serious consequences if they’re not treated seriously,” he told Schieffer.

On Super Bowl Sunday both The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post weighed in on the concussion issue.

In an editorial,
The Inquirer cited a Time magazine issue with a cover story on “the most dangerous game,” pro-football, which The Inquirer said “has crippled retirees mentally and physically.”

Young players sustain 140,000 concussions a year, and half of them return to the field so soon they may suffer permanent braind damage, The Inquirer warns.

And Washington Post columnist Leonard Shapiro complained that the Super Bowl pregame show and telecast made no mention of the concussion issue.

It is an interesting question, whether football is really the most dangerous sport. Boxing will always be on the top of my list even though it involves far fewer participants. The goal of boxing is to cause a brain injury to one’s opponent. Much of the impetus behind the growing movement to forbid return to play on the day of a concussion comes out of concern for the “second impact syndrome.” In second impact syndrome, the brain’s ability to regulate cranial blood pressure is impaired by the first concussion. When a second concussion occurs there can be a resulting catastrophic increase in intracranial pressure, ICP. It was such injury that caused Zachery Lystedt’s brain injury. Well how does one reconcile no return to play rules, when the injured person continues to box?

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