Tackling the Safety Issues

Josiah Rodriguez’s terrifying injury during the football game with Valley Catholic shed light on the numerous dangers of football and other contact sports.

On Friday, September 8th, 2017, Junior Josiah Rodriguez was taken away from the first home game of the season by life flight with an unknown injury. The game ended after Rodriguez left the field with 6:49 on the clock. People were silent, looks of worry and anticipation plastered on their faces.

It was later revealed that Rodriguez suffered from a severely pinched nerve which lead to a temporary loss of control of his lower limbs. While he reports that he should make a full recovery, his injury begs the question; Is football, or any full contact sport for that matter, worth it’s numerous risks?

One of the most devastating side effects of repetitive head injuries is Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, otherwise known as CTE. CTE is a disease found in people who have had repeated head injuries and has a devastating plethora of symptoms, including dizziness, confusion, impulsive behavior, and in later stages, suicidal tendencies.

A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 110 out of 111 former NFL players had CTE, with over 90 of them had severe cases. CTE was found in the brains of three out of 14 former high school players.

Despite this staggering number, last June, the NFL ended their partnership with the National Institutes of Health for brain research (NIH) with $16 million of their $30 million donation unspent. The announcement to let the agreement expire came only days after the release of the CTE study. Tensions first rose when the NFL denied the funds for research to find CTE in living patients back in 2015.

Statistics show that over half of football injuries occur to the lower limbs. Majority of those injuries are the knee, including ACL, PCL and meniscus injuries. Injuries to the knee occur both during games and practice.

Injuries are most commonly traumatic and high impact. Due to overuse football players often experience low back pain. Overuse can lead to overtraining syndrome, the result of an imbalance between workout and recovery.

However, over the last few years, the NFL has been making movements towards a safer playing environment. In 2010, the National Football League made a plethora of changes to the rules, providing more protection for hits against the head & shoulder area, making most instances of head-to-head contact penalized.

Even with these changes, safety continues to be the number one concern for most. However, these issues don’t seem to concern Rodriguez, as he claims the risk is worth the reward. “It happens in every sport. You just have to tough it out and get through it.”