Scaffter Thoughts 05-20-2012: Football Injuries and Concussions

As a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, Jack H. Scaff Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S.M., is part of a panel of experts who, from time to time, are consulted by organizations such as the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal on various questions about sports and health.  The members of the American College of Sports Medicine endeavor to set those seeking their input onto the path of accurate information.

Recently, we have been reading a lot in the paper about football injuries and concussions.  What you have to remember is that football is a blood sport and that is why we watch the games.  The same can be said of the Indianapolis 500, people don’t go to watch the driving, they go for the accidents! 

We watch these kinds of sports for blood and guts.  While this may be good for fundraisers, when you see a kid in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives it is not so nice.

In sports like football, the reason we provide more and more protection is so that we cut down on the small injuries, …and get more of the bigger injuries.  But people won’t believe that, they say, “That’s not true, we’re doing it to protect the players!”

Well, … let’s look at it the other way.  Look at rugby players.  They wear a lot less protective equipment and they’re a blood sport too and they never get head injuries; they get dislocated shoulders, and broken arms are the badge of honor in that sport.  Notice that in soccer the players wear virtually no equipment at all, … and nobody gets hurt, …and we don’t watch soccer.

If you are against kids getting concussions, or even pro football players, just think about it:  We like blood and guts sports.  So if that’s what you like, be prepared for the side effects, but don’t say we’ve got to do something, because there are things that we can do.