Are Football Helmets Dangerous? Why is the National Football League non-responsive on the idea of players not wearing helmets? The reason being is because if they change the helmet rule then they would have to change a few more rules regarding stance, safety, etc. It takes a lot of time and research to make changes in professional leagues, which prevents them from happening very often. Also, changing just one thing leads to other changes as well since the rules are strongly associated.
Football players should not wear helmets because of the injuries related to the head, the negative effects on vision, the overall inconvenience, the higher costs of the helmets, and the time lost due to the injuries. One of the many reasons why football players should not wear helmets is because they are putting themselves at a greater risk of a concussion by wearing a helmet. Concussions, due to helmet to helmet contact, are on a steep increase in the NFL. In fact, the league released statistically data that showed 58% more football athletes had a concussion in 2015 compared to 2014.
Helmet to helmet contact is the leading cause for concussions in the NFL. There were 271 concussions last year, which was 75 more than the year before (NFL Concussions Fast Facts). It is important to realize that an athlete can experience “long-lasting problems with movement, learning, or speaking” (Concussion – Topic Overview). Football players are just thinking about the present, when in reality, a football injury related to the head, can cause serious symptoms in years to come.
As a result of multiple concussions over time, the potential for the condition, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), ncreases. CTE is a condition of “brain damage which persists over a period of years or decades and which is the result of traumatic impacts to the cranium” (Brain Injury Research Institute). Another reason why football players should not wear helmets is due to the weapon it can create. Leading with the crown of the helmet is by far the most dangerous play in football. The crown is defined as the top of the helmet and when the head is titled and lowered into a defenseless receiver, a penalty is called.
But why are the consequences so unjust to the one that is said to be causing “unnecessary roughness” if they are putting the victim in serious danger not only in the present but in the future. So, this leads me to believe helmets should either be eliminated as a whole, or at least advanced enough to keep the head injuries at a bare minimum. A third compelling reason that football players should not be wearing helmets is because rugby players do not wear them and quite frankly have less problems with injuries associated with the head.
In fact, concussions are the more serious of injuries and only happen a whopping 7% in the National Rugby League. Just to put things into perspective, “common types of injuries are musculoskeletal bruising and strains (30% of all injuries) and joint/ligament sprains (20%)” (Rugby League Fact Sheet). That adds up to 50% of the injuries in rugby, which draws the conclusion that concussions do not take place very often because rugby players do not have helmets on. Instead, in rugby, you see more leading with the shoulder with the head ducked to the side.
This is a perfect example of what it would be like if the NFL changed its rule about helmets. Of course it would take a few years for the players to get used to it, but after that, the game of football would be better than ever. Yet another reason that football players should do without helmets is because of the permanent marks it can leave on your skin ultimately resulting in a minor head injury. Now, this case might seem laughable to some people, but there are a lot of different players with permanent marks resulting from wearing the helmet too long or too often.
For example, one the greatest football players of all time, Peyton Manning, is actually known for the bruise left on his forehead from the helmet. Peripheral vision is compromised by the helmet, which increases the risk of collision into other players and/or objects. If the players do not have helmets on, their awareness and sight improve drastically. With that improved awareness and sight, players can more freely and easily avoid contact at their discretion. The most important aspect of this, though, is to realize that better sight for the football players means quality play from both sides.
Also, the better quality play results in a high intensity game which is a nice benefit for the fans. Not to mention, the player’s safety is increased as well. Aside from the injury helmets create through collision, helmets are also an inconvenience to the players. Players have to take them off and on multiple times during the game. Sometimes players do not even get to wear the helmet for more than 30 seconds due to a quick change of possession. It just seems like an inconvenience to the players, which helps the case of abolishing helmets in the NFL.
Another thing to consider is the players are breathing heavy and some even have visors on which could eventually end up fogging the visor and making it hard to see. The helmet could also just make it hard to breath especially compared to just having no helmet on and breathing freely. In addition to all those points, another possibility of inconvenience is there is nearly no room on the sidelines to keep your helmet that is why you see most football players slide it on top of their head. That might seem convenient, however, this brings up another good point, the helmet is heavy as well.
Another reason why the NFL should consider no helmets in the league is because of the time lost due to the injuries occurred from a hard hit from the helmet. The average football game is 3 hours and 12 minutes. People get restless and want to see action all the time, but if there are multiple players hurt every game, how does one speed up the game? The answer is simple, eliminate helmets to prevent multiple injuries. The flow of the game would improve greatly, but more importantly, the head injuries would be cut down.
That is really the basic reason behind scenes, the league is doing everything they can to keep players safe. Even if they just consider no helmets it would be a step forward for the NFL. Ultimately, the league needs to keep the players safe and shorten up the games to keep the fans’ attention. It is interesting to see the point of view that the players have on this matter. Bear’s quarterback, Jay Cutler, brings up a valid point and says “we signed up for this”. This statement was of course an indirect answer to a critical question of is the NFL becoming dangerous.
It seems that Cutler knows that helmets are totally dangerous, however, football players sign up for it and some even thrive on big hits. But, big blows to the head is a complete hazard. Football players can not overlook the fact that the NFL is becoming a league of utter injuries. In fact, “more than 40 percent of retired National Football League players, had signs of traumatic brain injury based on sensitive MRI scans called diffusion tensor imaging,” according to a press release from the AAN (40 percent of former NFL players suffer from brain injuries, new study shows).
This is a serious problem that has to be fixed, and one of the ways to fix it is to get rid of helmets as a whole. In conclusion, helmets should not be used by football players because of the problems it causes. It is said that changing this helmet rule in the NFL might change other rules as well. While that is true, it really is an aspect that has to be changed. Basically, for every rule change, their is a lot of time and hard research put into it. But, no helmets not only keeps players safe but it also has its benefits.
Like stated above, some of the benefits consists of peripheral vision and convenience. It is obviously more convenient to be wearing nothing compared to be wearing a helmet and having to take it off every possession change. Also, time loss and higher costs run together in that the more injuries that happen the more time you lose along with fines for the guilty one that injured the player by helmet to helmet contact. That is just a problem the league would not have to deal with if they got rid of helmets altogether.
Next, brain/head injuries are a huge conflict in the NFL. It is all because of helmet to helmet contact leading with the crown of the helmet. Getting rid of helmets would eliminate leading with the head because football players do not want to hit head on with the opponent. Finally, football players should not wear helmets because of the injuries related to the head, the negative effects on vision, the overall inconvenience, the higher costs of the helmets, and the time lost due to the injuries.