White paper- jdormann

Proposal: Rugby and football can be dangerous, but what sport has more debilitating injuries? Rugby players are more prone to spinal injuries, but football players are more prone to head injuries. How do these injuries compare and what is more harmful in the long-run?

  1. “Is rugby or American football more dangerous”

The Essential Content of the Article: This article from The Telegraph focuses on the injuries rugby players face compared to football players. Being a faster rugby player increases the chance for a concussion, but it is still less likely compared to football players. The helmets and padding in football give the players a false sense of security, so they abuse their body and head more then they need to.

What it Proves: Football players are more likely to suffer from more severe brain injuries compared to rugby players.

2. “Rugby, like NFL, does not have concussion issue figured out”

The Essential Content of the Article: This article on the ESPN website focuses on the inherent concussion problem in rugby and comparing it to the concussion problem in the NFL. Kat Merchant was a female rugby player for the English national team, and she suffered 10 or more concussions to play rugby at the highest level. The NFL’s attempt to lessen their concussion problem is also highlighted. Head Coach Pete Carroll with the Seattle Seahawks began teaching a different tackling technique for his players to use. This new tackling technique is based on how rugby players tackle and making sure that the head is not involved in the tackle.

What it proves: The NFL and professional rugby both share a problem with concussions, and the NFL is implementing tackling techniques from rugby to make football safer for the players.

3. “Is rugby safer than football?”

The Essential Content of the Article: This article from the San Diego Union-Tribune focuses on the long term effects from playing high-speed contact sports, like rugby and football. There are not many studies done comparing the concussions side by side, but there is plenty of information on injuries. One player on San Diego’s rugby team had suffered numerous concussions and blackouts while playing the game. Studies done in the UK found that high level rugby players also developed CTE like their NFL counterparts. The studies and stories show proof of a problem, and USA rugby, like the NFL, is working on ways to remedy concussions.

What it proves: CTE is not limited to just football. For both football and rugby to stay around, the concussion percentage needs to be reduced by different rules or better techniques.

4. “Risk of Spinal Injuries Highest in Rugby”

The Essential content of the Article: This article from the Independent focuses on the relation of spinal injures in rugby compared to those in other sports. By far, rugby has the most spinal injuries compared to any other sport. Out of 98 injuries compiled by the Trevor Jones Tetraplegic Trust, 58 are rugby related. Along with the reported injuries, the Rugby Football Union has withheld information and statistics on spinal injuries for years. Ben Smeldon is one rugby union player that was left permanently paralyzed after an unsafe scrum collapsed and he broke his neck.

What it proves: Rugby is the least safe sport when it comes to spinal injuries and paralyzation. Compared to every other sport, there are none that have near the same amount of spinal injuries.

5. “American football or rugby: what is more dangerous”

The Essential content of the Article: This article from The Guardian focuses on the safety concern for players in the NFL. More than 4,000 families have brought lawsuits to the NFL regarding concussions and debilitating head injuries. Players like Junior Seau took their own life because of symptoms brought on by CTE. His family sued the NFL for “wrongful death” and won the lawsuit. Jim McKenna, A professor of physical safety and health at Leeds Metropolitan University, claims that rugby is much safer than football. Football players use their head as a tackling tool, which is never the case with rugby tackles. Football players purposely throw their head into contact to bring down an opponent, and rugby players do their best to keep their head out of a tackle.

What it proves: Rugby players do not suffer as many concussions and head injuries as football players. Football players need to be taught techniques for safer play so they can have a life after the NFL and not suffer from CTE or other debilitating head injuries.

6. “ACSM information on concussions in sports”

The Essential content of the Article: This article from the ACSM, American College of Sports Medicine, focuses on the symptoms and causes of a concussion. A concussion happens when there is a sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head. It can occur when the head contacts the ground, a ball, or another player. Concussion symptoms are not always obvious and apparent. A couple symptoms are irritability, change in sleeping patterns, dizziness, vomiting, and double vision. Even doctors sometimes struggle in detecting symptoms associated with concussions.

What it proves: Concussions are hard to detect and there needs to be more research done to reveal better detection methods. If someone may have suffered a concussion, it is better to take the preventative measures rather than risk their health and safety.

7. “Concussion- The Invisible Injury”

The Essential content of the Article: The article written by Emily Tong and John Almquist focuses on the diagnosis and legislation related to concussions. Many high school and college athletic programs have the players take a baseline test for normal cognitive function. When a player may have gotten a concussion, they go back and have them take the same test and compare the scores. If the cognitive function of the athlete is not 100% they will not score as well as they did the first time. All 50 states have passed laws to protect young athletes from returning to play before their ready. The players are to be educated on concussions and symptoms, and they are told to refrain from playing if they have any symptoms. After a player is diagnosed with a concussion, the law requires the player to be cleared by a medical professional.

What it proves: Concussion issues are important enough to be written into the state legislature of all 50 states. Player safety is more important than any aspect of the game, and the brain is a delicate and important piece that players need to take better care of.

8. “A Multifactorial Approach to Sport-Related Concussion Prevention and Education: Application of the Socioecological Framework”

The Essential content of the Article: This article was written by Johna Register-Mihalik, Emily Kroshus, and Tamara C. Valovich McLeod. It focuses on the different levels of change that must occur to improve the concussion problem. From the interpersonal role all the way out to society’s role. Players need to be educated on concussions, coaches and parents need to be educated on identifying the symptoms, and schools and governments need to put policy in place to protect the players future health.

What it proves: Understanding and fixing the concussion problem is not a one-step process, but a long and tedious approach that involves the individual players all the way up to the state government.

9. “Rise in reported Concussions a good thing”

The Essential content of the Article: This article was written anonymously in the Winnipeg Free Press, and it focuses on the recent increase in reported concussions in the NFL. Since 2008, there has been an increase of 34% in reported concussions. The players are playing at the same speed and intensity as 2008, but the trainers are paying more attention to concussion symptoms and taking time to fully evaluate players.

What it proves: Concussion protocol is being taken more seriously than it has in the past. Players are put through various medical tests including brain scans at times before they return.

10. “Spinal injuries in New Zealand rugby and rugby league- – a twenty year survey”

The Essential content of the Article: This article was done by the Christchurch of Medicine and it focuses on spinal injuries rugby players suffered in New Zealand. The scrum produced the highest percentage of spinal injuries. Forwards and heavier players suffered more spinal injuries compared to backs and lighter players.

What it proves: Spinal injuries are a part of rugby and may not be avoidable, but there are precautions and techniques players can implement to reduce their chances.

What I’m still looking for: A direct comparison of the spinal injuries and concussions in rugby and football, showing statistics and what game would be safer for youth athletes to participate in.

Current state of research: I have gathered various sources that show the injuries and statistics of both games and specific information regarding the preventative measures leagues and communities can take. Like stated above, my reasearch is not done and I am looking for more comparisons of the two games in safety and long term effects of these injuries. 


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