Research Position Paper — dragon570

No Helmets In Football!

Over the years, the NFL has been under fire after the public has learned the consequences for NFL players during or after their careers. As a result, some parents are scared to put their children into a sport that could lead to brain disease. I have found that if football players tackle just like rugby players, safer tackling could cause fewer concussions for football, in general. However, tackling differently will only be effective if the NFL gets rid of the helmets. Football players think that since they have helmets and pads they are invincible, however, they can still get injury even with the helmets and pads on. Football helmets don’t help the players’ neck from being rotated if the football player was hit a certain way that can cause a player to break their neck. Players should play some of the drills in practice without helmets because that will force them to protect their head. Some players tend to lean into a tackle head first and by doing so they have a higher risk of concussions just because of poor tackling. Football player have been taught to lean in with their shoulder, however, if a player tries to lean in with their shoulder, the helmet will get in the way and cause the helmet to hit the other players’ pads first before the shoulder even makes contact with the other players’ body.

On Quora, Ryan Quirk answers the question, “Why does football have a much bigger concussion problem than rugby even though rugby players wear far less protection?” by saying “I think the helmets worn in American Football do more harm then [sic] good. The player relies on it to protect him instead of correctly positioning his head when tackling.” Football players have put their bodies on the lines because they have a misconception that when they have pads on they are safe from all hits that come their ways big or small. Their not because the helmets and pads don’t prevent concussions. Having no helmets will have players be more cautious of the way they tackle because it will be easier for them to receive a concussion if they use their head and cause a player to change the way they tackle. The NFL would probably have fewer concussion if the players just were very mindful of the body.

Rugby uses a different tackling method that causes fewer concussions than the NFL. People may think that Rugby having few concussions than football is weird because the NFL uses helmets and the Rugby does not. A football player is taught to us this shoulders to make a correct tackle but it is hard for the player to get around to using their shoulders when they have a huge helmet on their head. However, the way rugby players tackle is completely different because they have to lean in with their shoulder and put their head to the opposite side of the ball-carriers, wrap their arms around the other player and drive forward to make the tackle. Rugby players make an legal tackle by not wrapping their arms around the ball-carrier first before they drive them to the ground. Rugby players cannot hit a player from his side; that is an illegal tackle. Unlike rugby the NFL blind-side hits are legal. Blind side hits are the leading type of tackles which can cause concussions.  In the video, on A7FL website they talked how football players hit their helmet on every play even when they are not tackle someone. I read that players hit another players’ padding more than 1,000 times a season and adding a players’ average amount of years they play by the time they retire their brain is damaged.

American 7s football league (A7FL for short ) that doesn’t have their players wearing helmets. The number of players on the field is also a factor because the amount of players getting hit every play. The A7FL only allows 7 players on the field for each team, whereas, the NFL allows 11 players on the field. The A7FL has players tackle differently because they don’t use helmets. A defensive player has to wrap his arms around a players body before making a tackle.

Some people may think that if the NFL gets rid of helmets it would be like watching Rugby and their is no point in watching American football anymore. The NFL may be like watching Rugby but there will be similarities and differences just like other sports. For example, A7FL and the national football league. They have the same concept of score a touchdown, however, they are different because A7FL allow players to wear helmets and the NFL does so the way they tackle is different. The NFL may look like Rugby but their will also be differences, such as, The NFL will still have pads and the same number of players on the field as usually but the only thing that will change is that the NFL will be tackling the same as Rugby. The NFL may look like Rugby, but the football players would be less likely to receive concussions if they tackle the correct way like Rugby does. Rugby will still have the same rules as they do now.

A helmet is lined with thick padding all around the helmet. Helmet industries thought they solved the problem by adding padding inside the helmets. A helmets main responsibility (if not its only) is to protect the head from skull fractures, but head injuries do still happen. Even with all of the padding in a helmet concussions come from within the brain. While the padding protects from skull fractures, the brain is still moving around in our head banging against our skull and the more hits to the brain the worse it gets. Continuous hits that are making the brain hit against the skull cause the brain to function less.

People may think that I am crazy and begin to think of different ways to lessen the amount of concussions that the NFL has and also keep helmets in the game of football. Having players get rid of their helmet in a sport that is mainly about physical contact on every play is outrageous. Changing the way players tackle is the biggest factor because if a player is trying to tackle someone without a helmet the same way as NFL players tackle wouldn’t be effective.

Even now with how much padding a player has it is very hard for a player to tackle another player without hitting his head on any part of the opponents body at least once in a game. Adding more padding can cause the helmet to become bigger and harder for the player to avoid tackling without hitting the helmet of the other players’ body. Having a bigger helmets will cause a players’ to add pressure to his neck. The bigger the helmet the more the person could be vulnerable. Even the way the helmet is designed now it is hard for the player to avoid not getting his helmet to not hit the other players’ pads.

Another option, is to tackling differently but still have helmets on. That could do the trick, however, the best way to make a rugby tackle is to have the helmets off because the way Rugby players tackle is to lean in with their shoulder and the arms are the first to make contact to the other players’ body. If someone adds the same football helmet as American football has today and includes the same kind of Rugby tackling it wouldn’t work as effectively because the football helmet would be in the way of the player that is trying to tackle the opposing player. For instance, If a player leans his head to the side and wraps his arms around the player he would have almost got the tackle right but the only thing that is in the way is having the helmet on which can cause the defensive player to hit their head against the offensive players’ body.

In Dr. Warren King’s statement in the article by Alex Goff, “Concussions: Rugby Can Help Football” Dr. King states that “We’ve learning more and more that these small concussions over time in a variety of sports can have a serious, lasting effect later in life.” The multiple times a player gets hit in the helmet from a simple tackle can add up and become a very serious issue. Having their brain hit against their skull is very dangerous because the brain is the powerhouse of our body and getting hit every time a player is on the field can be very dangerous down the road in his life after his football career.

The brain is the most vital part of everyone’s body because it houses our neurons which allows us to walk, talk, and move. A single hard hit, or a series of smaller hits, can cause players’ to receive concussions, or a player being paralysis, or worse. Football is a sport that players can go into a game and after one very hard helmet-to-helmet hit it can cause them to end their career early. A collection of hard hit versus a one big hard hit can out weigh a hard hit because it can hurt a player later in his life. In the NFL, most of the players are getting hit in the head region every down because they have a big helmet that can get in the way of them trying to block their opponents from getting to their quarterback. In football, players with more than 1 concussion can be detrimental to their brain because their brain is getting worse, and worse with every hit to the head. Some players don’t tell their coaches that they have a concussion, but players should definitely let their coaches know because not letting anyone know can cause more harm than good. For example, what if the concussion is worse than what the player thought it would be. Sometimes a player doesn’t notify his coach when they have a concussion because they don’t want to be taken out of the game. A players’ brain may get worse over time and cause him to be mental rehabilitated. Thomas Drysdale talks about how football players suffer from Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). He shows how doctors say that this disease can be caused by the repeated hits to the head and how this disease can lead to a football players’ death. He gave two examples of linebacker Junior Seau and Chicago Bears’ star safety Dave Duerson both suffered from CTE and need up ending their own lives.

Back then, players families sued the NFL for their negligence for a football players’ health. Over the years, NFL has taken better care of their players’ ever since the stories about the injuries that can occur after being in the NFL. For example, Junior Seau was one of the best linebackers in the league during his time in the NFL. He made headlines when the world found out that he shot himself in the chest at the age of 43. His family was devastated and sued the NFL after they found out about Junior Seau’s brain report . Studies showed that Junior Seau had “‘a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head hits and brain trauma.” Junior Seau’s family won the case and ever since that came out people believe that the NFL has been trying to help make the game safer for the players.

Steven Laurey is Belgian neurologist who went on Ted talks to speak about the dangers of having hits taken to the head. Throughout his speech he uses Muhammad Ali (The greatest boxer of all time) as an example of what happen to a person that spend years in a sport that has athletes taking punches to the head and face. His main concept is that athletes that get hits taken repeatedly to their head can cause the nerves in their brain to stop working over time because of how many time the brain has hit against the wall of the skull. He shows the audience that after getting hit in the head some many times an athletes can form an abnormal prudent that is toxic to the brain and over time it gets worse and worse causing the athlete to slowly turn into an insane person. He states that there isn’t a cure for the disease. Our brain just continues to get smaller and smaller over time and causes for more diseases to occur.

Some people may think about the technology that doctors use today that study on the brains activity during football games. Doctors have come up with technology that shows the brain activity within the brain. Even with this study it doesn’t prevent the players from receiving concussions, rather, it just shows the doctors the measure of the impact, where the brain made contact with the skull, and how hard it hit the skull. The University of New Hampshire studied this technology. In Jenny Vrentas article, “Helmetless Football? It’s the New Practice at New Hampshire” she states that “at first the University of New Hampshire football players were skeptical when they started practicing without helmets, but this technique is not only making them more cautious about their heads, it is also helping them improve their game.” After having this research done their is a great number of teams that are having some practice drill without helmets. It makes the players rethink the ways they use to tackle another player to the ground.

If the NFL changes the way football players tackle and get rid of helmets it will lessen the concussion rate because players will be more cautious of their head. Tackling like rugby players do will decrease the number of times that the players hits their face against the other players’ pads. Studies will shows that players aren’t receiving any diseases after their years of football. Throughout my research, I was surprised that some people were on board to get rid of helmets in practice. Having players tackle without helmets will definitely change the game of football in a better and more safer way.

Work Cited:

A7FL. “Safety – A7FL.A7FL. A7FL, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2016

Brain Concussion – Shake It and You Break It | Steven Laureys | TEDxLiège. Dir. Dr. Steven     Laureys. Perf. Steven Laureys. YouTube. YouTube, 2 May 2016. Web. 06 Nov. 2016.

Concussion: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention.” WebMD. ebMD, n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2016.

Dawson, Peter. “Rugby Tries – How and Where You Score Tries in Rugby.” RugbyHow. RugbyHow, n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2016.

Drysdale, Thomas A. “Journal of Legal Medicine.” Helmet-to-Helmet Contact: Avoiding a Lifetime Penalty. Taylor And Francis Online, 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 06 Nov. 2016.

Fawcett, Robert. “Pads and Helmets: Rugby vs. Gridiron.” Pads and Helmets: Rugby vs. Gridiron. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2016.

Goff, Alex. “Concussions: Rugby Can Help Football.” The Post Game. RugbyMAG, 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 4 Dec. 2015.

Haislop, Tadd. “Football Helmets Are Creating More Problems than They Solve.” Sporting News. Sporting News, 28 May 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.

Lemco, Tyler. Lemco: Why Football Needs Less Pads. Computer software. CBS Local Sports. CBS, 3 July 2015. Web. 04 Dec. 2016.

Quirk, Ryan, Jason McDonald, Meehawl Mofiodh, PJ Coward, Cameron Rudderham, Simon McCormack, and Gary Snook. “Re: Why Does Football Have a Much Bigger Concussion Problem than Rugby Even Though Rugby Players Wear Far Less Protection?” Blog comment. Quora. Quora, 13 July 2015. Web. 4 Dec. 2016.

Vrentas, Jenny. “Helmetless Football? It’s the New Practice at New Hampshire.” The MMQB. Muscles and Medicine, 4 Dec. 2014. Web. 04 Dec. 2016.


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