Amy Donaldson: We need real conversations about the dangers of football
With the improvements in helmets, concussion diagnosis and medical treatment for head-related injuries, there has also been a decrease in the size of shoulder pads. Athletes are bigger, faster and stronger. Despite fines to alleviate certain kinds of dangerous hits, the culture still values a kind of brutality that rewards rough play.
So what should we do? First and foremost, we should talk more.
These conversations need to occur immediately but without defensiveness, without fear and without extremes. We need to be honest with each other and ourselves about what science really does — and does not — show us with these studies. Maybe there are solutions that can be easily accessed; maybe there are not.
But every time I admire a hit that lays a player on his back, I also feel a pang of conscience. Should this be what we celebrate in athletics? Are we trading the futures of our children for sport? And if so, what do we do to rectify the situation?
How do the injuries sustained in football compare with rugby, lacrosse or hockey?
If it’s just a difference of opinion, then maybe the answer is just more information, more education. That way the parents of young boys who dream of playing football from the time they can talk will be armed with information about ways to better protect them.
Risks are part of sports.
Risks are part of life.
And most of us who choose athletic, active lifestyles understand that sometimes our decisions put our health, safety and maybe our lives in jeopardy. But we usually understand those risks in ways that I fear we do not understand head injuries and football.
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