Friday, November 7, 2014

How to Reduce Football Injuries in One Counter-Intuitive Step

I listened to a podcast this morning about football injuries in the pros, and the entire time I was just pissed, and at one point I caught myself yelling “NO!” at my radio. 

The folks were having this long, drawn out discussion about how the padding needs to be improved and the helmets need to be made, more helmetey, I guess?

Maybe by adding horns?

They were operating under the impression that the injuries being sustained, were being sustained because the equipment that we give these men to protect themselves is insufficient to protect them from the impacts possible in a game of football.  Better pads.  Better helmets.  More protection. 

I’m reminded of the marked uptick in brain injuries caused when they started requiring huge, padded gloves in sanctioned boxing events.  The gloves were to make things safer, of course, but what they succeeded in doing is to make it possible for a man to hit another man, full force, in the skull, without turning his hand into taco meat. 

So they did. 

Image result for boxer getting punched in the face
Hot each other in the skull at full force, that is...

It is actually quite common for increased safety facilities to result in an actual decrease in safety.  When you give a person front, side, floor, and ceiling air bags, they will take more risks in their car, because they “know” they will be safe.  When you put a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and a mouth-guard on your kid before sending him out to ride his bike, he’s going to feel like he’s invincible, and ride his bike accordingly

"I look like a total dork right now.  I think I'll go jump off that freeway overpass to
show my friends I'm not a complete Melvin.."

My position on football padding is that if you want a safer game, less is more.  If you give the men less protection, they will be forced to take their own safety and well-being into account before turning themselves into a human battering ram. 

Less helmet?  Less tendency to lead with the head. 

Less shoulder pads?  Less tendency to run full on into another man. 

Yes, it will make the game less fun to watch.  There is nothing like the experience of watching a man get hit so hard that you can feel the impact in your living room, but we have to ask ourselves if that’s really worth having our modern-day gladiators end up eating through a tube after their careers are over. 
The answer is yes...


  1. Eating through a tube?? I don't see a problem with that. After all, you *said* they were gladiators, didn't you?

    1. They're big boys who can make their own decisions. But I still have an opinion.