Definition Argument-jdormann

Can Concussions and Spinal Injuries Be Eliminated from High-impact Sports?

P1. There have been countless lives that have been altered forever, or even ended because of concussions or spinal injuries. When a person plays a high impact sport, their chances of a life changing injury dramatically increases. Repetitive concussions have been proved to cause CTE, and just one spinal injury could put a person in a wheelchair for the rest of their life. Some could argue that people accept this risk upon participating in an intense activity, but walking away with a life debilitating injury is not a thought for players. Recently, rugby and football alike have begun studying concussions and spinal injuries in an attempt to reduce them.

P2. When watching a football game at any level, the spectator can expect to see powerful blows to the head and spine. The high energy hits are the thrill of playing and watching the game, but cumulative hits cause serious damage. NFL players are the highest level football players in the world, and they are the ones that receive the most and worst head injuries. The NFL has been taken to court with over 4,000 lawsuits from players and their families because of concussions. Such a large organization would surely have some knowledge and capabilities to prevent these injuries, but they did not worry about it until recently. As more people become aware of the dangers, they are less likely to support the game or allow their developing children to play. If there is a way to prevent or entirely eliminate concussions, people would feel more comfortable with allowing their children to play football. A different tackling technique has been adopted from rugby to increase the safety of football players. An article published by The Telegraph states:

Several American colleges have studied this way of tackling. The Seattle Seahawks have worked with Fijian rugby sevens star Waisale Serevi on “taking the head out of the game”. Rugby techniques have subsequently been introduced at Washington, Florida and Michigan State – whose head coach Mark Dantonio extols the benefits of rugby–style tackling.

P3. This type of tackling emphasizes player safety and not putting the head in danger during contact. Rugby players do not wear padding or helmets, so tackling is not as violent as football. The players must be cognizant of their body position and in complete control of their movement. Rugby has an injury issue of its own, but it is spinal injuries the players suffer from. Players can suffer from concussions or CTE just like football players, but it is less likely. Jojo Moyes wrote an article for Independent about the high risk of spinal injuries rugby players face. In the article, she wrote:

Ben Smoldon, 21, successfully sued a referee after he was left paralysed following the collapse of a scrum. The new figures reveal that nearly half of all serious rugby injuries occurred in players under 26 and nearly a quarter resulted in the patient needing a ventilator to breathe.

P4. Similar to football, rugby has had lawsuits due to injuries. When players from both teams form a scrum, there is a massive amount of pressure acting on the players. If a scrum collapses or a player is not in the right body position, it can cause them to break their neck or seriously injure their spine. Younger players are not fully developed which puts them at a higher risk of injury.

P5. Both, rugby and football are high impact sports that struggle with serious head and spine injuries. There is no one method that will immediately eliminate all life changing injuries from these sports, but doctors and players can continue working together to take preventative measures making the sports safer. Future studies about impact to the head and spine will help to further the safety of players and keep intense sports like rugby and football around for years to come.


Moyes, Jojo. “Risk of Spinal Injuries Highest in Rugby.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 22 Apr. 1996,

Tmg. “Is Rugby or American Football More Dangerous?” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 25 Jan. 2016,


5 thoughts on “Definition Argument-jdormann”

  1. JD, I’m struggling to identify your overall position here. You start with a title that asks a question and then don’t answer it.

    The other day I suggested that good writers are tour guides. Permit me to expand on that analogy.

    1. Identify the destination.
      —Standing at the base of the mountain, we give our audience a glimpse of the peak.
    2. Sell the advantages of the journey.
      —Describe the view we can achieve only by climbing.
    3. Preview the adventure.
      —Advise our readers how long the trip will take, what supplies they might need, how strenuous the climb, and the challenges and attractions along the way.
    4. Keep the party together.
      —Provide just-in-time warnings to avoid hazards.
      —Preview the not-to-be-missed sites along the way.
      —Stick to the main path to avoid being side-tracked.

    Your essay gets us up on the hill without a destination. We’re not sure we want to make the journey because we don’t know where we’re headed, and you appear to be in no hurry to tell us. The solution is very simple. Point to the peak. Make the climb seem worthwhile.


    1. Thank you for the feedback. I will strongly suggest switching to arguing why football teams should adopt rugby-style tackling. I was unable to work on my rebuttal last week because I was in Bermuda for a rugby tournament without internet connection. I plan to work diligently and produce a rebuttal draft as soon as possible.


  2. I’ve read your White Paper, JD. It indicates that you want to compare injuries across two sports, football and rugby. That may sound narrow, but it’s VERY broad. Even comparing just concussions in NFL Football and World Rugby would be too broad overall. A more reasonable thesis for 3000 words would be the benefit (if any) of adopting rugby-style tackling in the NFL. If you respond that very few academics have written about the specific topic, you’d be right.

    And THAT’S what makes it a worthwhile thesis! You get to be the person who examines whatever data there is and draws the conclusion!

    Let’s see what you do with your 637 words. I’ve numbered your paragraphs for easy reference.

    P1. Football and rugby are trying to reduce the concussions and spinal injuries that have always been hazards of their sports.
    P2. After years of denial, the NFL is trying to polish its image by declaring its commitment to reduce both head injuries and the health problems that result.
    P2 [the quote] Maybe rugby-style tackling will reduce the head traumas.
    P3. [first half] Rugby players avoid concussions voluntarily.
    P3, [second half] But they suffer spinal injuries. No, those have nothing to do with head tackling. Sorry, they do suffer concussions, just not as many. But getting back to those spinal injuries. They get a lot of those.
    P3. [the quote] One rugby player was paralyzed in a scrum. Serious injuries happen to young players. No, sorry, I don’t know if they all happen in scrums.
    P4. Actually, scrums do seem to be a big problem, resulting in neck and spine injuries, especially for young players.
    P5. Because their injuries are different, no one solution will eliminate them from both sports. But the sports are working on it.

    Your White Paper goal was to declare that one sport or the other was the safer alternative for young players to pursue. That’s much broader than it sounds too, JD. Offensive football players don’t tackle, right? So they don’t lead with their heads. Does that mean they suffer fewer concussions? And does that mean that football is safer—at least regarding concussions—for offensive players, say wide receivers?

    You don’t identify where your general injury claims come from, JD, but you seem to be drawing them from professional sports. So, is your question: “What sport is safer for a high school player?” Or, is your question, “What sport should I let my child pursue if he’s going to turn pro in ten years?”

    Looking back at your paragraph synopsis above, what argument do you appear to be pursuing? I’d say only that there are injury differences in two professions. You don’t compare percentages of players injured, or the severity of the injuries, the likelihood of lifelong debilitation, the average lengths of the pro careers, or much of anything beyond the prevalence of concussion compared to spinal injury.

    I think you could make a much more valuable contribution to the conversation by narrowing your focus to the points you started to make in the first 3 paragraphs:

    Football is trying to reduce the concussions that have always been hazards of its sport. After years of denial, the NFL is trying to polish its image by declaring its commitment to reduce both head injuries and the health problems that result. One solution is to tackle more like rugby players, who suffer far fewer concussions. Most NFL concussions are suffered by defensive ends and linebackers who tackle offensive players in the open field, often leading with their heads at high speed. Second-most concussions are suffered by the running backs and wide receivers who receive those high-velocity hits to their helmets.

    Now, I have no idea whether what I’ve said there about the prevalence of concussions to particular players is correct or not, but THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT A GOOD THESIS for a research paper. If it is true, the weight of that evidence would establish the obvious value of tackling by other means.

    [By the way, you mention rugby-style tackling twice without describing it. For readers hoping for clarity, our inability to SEE what you mean is a big disadvantage.]


  3. What do you think, JD? Is this the sort of feedback you were hoping for? I thrive on the interaction, so please respond if you value it too; otherwise, I quickly learn to spend my time with others.


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