Do We Just Change the Helmets?
Taking helmets out of football is a very counterintuitive idea itself. It may seem as if this will hurt the players, but in fact it will help protect the players. No helmets will make keep players from taking risky, hard hits, and cause them to have more caution when playing the game. They all will be protected from severe concussions, spinal cord injuries, and developing CTE later in life. There is however, some opposition to this counterintuitive idea. Many people feel as if there would be no change to the amount of head injuries sustained in a football game. They feel as if players will still hit hard, and make risky plays.
Today football helmets are evolving more and more everyday. Great minds are developing technology that will save the game of football. The new Vicis Zero 1 helmet is the latest in state of the arc brain saving technology. With all the brain trauma happening in the NFL, the league was distributed grants for companies to develop better equipment, that company was Vicis. The Seattle company developed the Zero 1 helmet to help the win the war on concussions. The new helmet flexes on contact, instead of the traditional helmet that has a hard outer shell, sort of like a battering ram. The new helmet has the same idea as a car bumper, it flexes and absorbs blows. The Zero 1 helmet also features 4 layers of brain saving protection. These include a lode shell, a core layer, an arch shell, and a form liner. The lode shell is an outer layer that makes contact with other helmets, it consists of bendable plastics. The core layer is made up of hundreds of flexible columns that act like shock absorbers. his layer is the heart of the Vicis helmet, and was developed with the help of Per Reinhall, head of the University of Washington’s mechanical engineering department and a co-founder of Vicis. The columns vary in length and thickness depending on their position in the helmet. They are made up of a resistant polymer that bends in any given direction when bent. It is kind of like a knee or elbow joint. When you jump, your knees absorb the force when you land by bending. In the helmet the polymer bends, absorbing the shock. Under the core layer is the arch shell and form liner. The arch shell is the base of the polymers, while the form liner fits custom to the persons head, adding more protection. The Zero 1 has gone through many test to see if it is safe for our player. These include a drop test where a dummy head in dropped onto an anvil, and a rotation test, where a moving pendulum strikes the helmet form the side. Both tests concluded that the Zero 1 helmet reduced the force of impact from 20-50 percent compared to traditional helmets. With a helmet like this, the NFL is a lot safer, chances of head trauma are reduced significantly and players minds can rest at ease. The helmet is no longer a weapon, but a vital part of a players padding and safety.
President Trump took many shots at the NFL at his Alabama campaign rally. He slammed players for kneeling during the national anthem, but he said a particularly disturbing comment. The president suggested that the NFL is being ruined now that they are addressing brain injuries. His exact words were “Because you know, today if you hit too hard — 15 yards! Throw him out of the game. They had that last week, I watched for a coupled of minutes. Two guys, just really, beautiful tackle. Boom! 15 yards. The referee goes on television, his wife’s so proud of him. They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game.” He basically said that efforts to make players safe ruins the game.
Helmets may have been upgraded, and made to absorb hits, but they still do the same damage. Risk compensation is when protective equipment prompts individuals to act more aggressively which increases the potential for injury. If you give an individual better protective equipment, they are going to have an increase in aggression, causing more injuries. Before, players with traditional helmets felt protected, so they made more riskier hits, causing more injuries. Now the players will feel even more protective, causing even more riskier hits, and even more injuries. Also even if these helmets are more protective, Vicis said they reduce the force of impact by 20-50 percent. This still is not a solution that will make football 100 percent safe. Players being prompted to act even more aggressively on the field, combined with not 100 percent helmets will even make the game more dangerous. Our efforts are not working, according to the NFL, head injuries have increased 58% since 2014. This proves our efforts are doing nothing, and show we need a huge change in the game.
President Trumps comments were very disturbing at his rally. These players are human beings, they are the same as you and me. We all are humans, we get sick, we all are susceptible to injuries. The president basically is saying that efforts to protect players from early CTE related deaths makes his game watching experience unenjoyable. There are probably many people out there that feel this way, but do not have the means, nor the courage to say comments like this. That is fine, it is their opinion. Here is a way we can all enjoy the game, and our players are 100 percent safe. Take away these weapons, let players not be prompted to take those dangerous hits. Helmets need to be put on the sidelines.
Helmets may be evolving, but as they evolve, they hurt our beloved players. The advancements of Vicis’ Zero 1 helmet only sets player safety 3 steps back. Players are going to act more violent, causing more and more injuries, it is simple logic. Players are still going to make those concussion causing hits, only harder. And with harder hits comes more severe concussions, which leads to a rise in the number of players who acquire CTE later in life, cutting their life expectancy by a significant amount of years. Taking helmets out of football with significantly reduce the number of concussions NFL players experience. This in turn will cause a chain reaction, reducing the amount of CTE in retired players, reducing the number of early deaths in individuals.
Stinson, Elizabeth. “This Flexible Football Helmet Wants to Save Your Brain.” Wired, Conde Nast, 3 June 2017, http://www.wired.com/2016/01/the-zero1-flexible-football-helmet-may-save-players-brains/.
Hagel, Brent. “Risk Compensation: A.” Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, July 2004, journals.lww.com/cjsportsmed/Fulltext/2004/07000/Risk_Compensation__A__Side_Effect__of_Sport_Injury.1.aspx.
Loria, Kevin. “Trump Suggested the NFL Is Being Ruined Now That It’s Addressing Brain Injuries – Here’s What Collisions Do to Players.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 26 Sept. 2017, http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-nfl-criticism-concussions-brain-injuries-cte-2017-9.
Vinton, Nathaniel. “Concussions up 58% This Season in NFL Regular Season Games.” NY Daily News, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, 29 Jan. 2016, www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/concussions-rise-nfl-league-data-reveals-article-1.2513828.