Player safety in the game of football has become a sizzling topic recently.
There have been scientific studies made that have shown where players who have suffered head injuries have had many side effects once they step away from the game.
Take former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau for instance. He committed suicide last May at the age of 43.
After studies of his brain, it's been found that Seau suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) — which according to Boston University, is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head.
According to BU studies, CTE "triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia."
These findings will most likely amp up safety measures considerably, possibly reinventing the game we know today.
Even President Barack Obama — in a recent interview with the political magazine, New Republic — stated that as much as he loves the game, he probably wouldn't be comfortable with his son participating in such a violent game ...
"I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football," Obama said. "And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence.
"In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much."
The president hit the big one in that statement — excitement.
What has the made the game of football so popular and "exciting" in this country has been its violent play. It's human nature to be attracted to car crashes. Don't believe me? Log on to YouTube and search for some violent, catastrophic videos and then gander at the millions and millions of viewers who have watched them.
Football is like the modern-day gladiators. It's popularity has been built on big hits and violence.
So, when you are talking about changing the game as we know it, you may be killing the game as we know it. People aren't going to fill stadiums and buy exclusive NFL packages on DIRECTV if they are watching a glorified game of flag football or two-hand touch.
The fact is, football isn't for everyone. And the ones that do play, go in with the knowledge that they could possibly get seriously injured. And its violent nature is why the pay is so lucrative.
Now, I think there should be steeper penalties on dirty hits. There's no excuse for launching yourself into someone head-first other than to knock them out cold. But they can't try to prevent injuries completely, because it will become touch football and there's no way the NFL or college could survive that preventative move.
President Obama stated that NFL players have decided to play the game despite the risks and are compensated nicely for doing so. It's the ones who aren't getting paid who he is more concerned about ...
"I tend to be more worried about college players than NFL players in the sense that the NFL players have a union, they're grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies," Obama said.
"You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That's something that I'd like to see the NCAA think about."
Sorry Mr. President, but the NCAA is more concerned with exploiting the athletes, not their personal well-being. But I agree, the NCAA should provide a way to compensate these young athletes so when they do suffer these type of head injuries, they can receive long-term treatment for the ailments caused by the game they weren't compensated monetarily for playing.
However, when it comes to the NFL, it's a business ... an extremely hazardous business. I mean, if you don't like children, don't become a teacher. If you don't like blood, don't become a phlebotomist.
And if you don't want to possibly suffer head injuries, then don't play football.
It's that simple. The game should remain the same, because playing football is strictly a choice.
And some should choose — like our president — not to play.