Friday, October 8, 2010

Can we save football from ourselves?

Football is a sport where the excitement of the game is based on simple physics. Much effort is put into increasing the size of the athlete (to increase mass), increasing the athlete’s strength (to increase acceleration) and increasing the speed of the athlete (the velocity of the moving mass). During the course of the game/practice, it is not uncommon that these three properties come into play in the form of a projectile. As has been widely published lately, many of these projectile collisions are violent enough to create a cerebral concussion. The effect of multiple concussive forces has been demonstrated by the development of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) in athletes. More recently, sub-concussive forces to the head are being studied. The New Your Times published a story regarding the thousands of sub-concussive forces during the course of a season in college football. The Chicago Tribune has also recently published an article referring to the thousands of sub-concussive forces during the course of a high school season. Then on October 7, 2010, USA Today published an article on the seemingly trend of football helmets inadvertently coming off during the course of the game. If we can step back (and think about the concept that injuries are caused by a mistake) and take a look at all of the contributing factors (mass, acceleration, speed, excessive hitting in practice, properly fitting helmet, etc), it is possible to save the game before we destroy it.

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