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Hard Knocks: College Football’s Wake-Up Call

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Hard Knocks: College Football’s Wake-Up Call

First off, let's get one thing straight: college football isn't going away. Neither is pro football, nor Pop Warner, nor high school. Football is America's national pastime, baseball having flushed away decades of goodwill with the steroid era. College and pro football are both billion-dollar industries that fascinate us with fast-paced gameplay, dramatic storylines, and of course, those train-wreck hits. But it's those same hits that have everyone from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to President Obama concerned about the game's violence. And if it's too dangerous for the pros, what does that mean for amateur college athletes?

 

A Bloody History

 

Those familiar with the history of the game know that violence is nothing new, and that in the early days death was a not-uncommon visitor to the gridiron. In fact, over a century before President Obama voiced his worry over college players facing "concussions and so forth," President Teddy Roosevelt called a meeting of several university football team representatives to push for safety measures after 19 boys were killed during regulation time in 1905. Four years later, the five-year tally was 113 dead, and finally changes began to take shape.

 

Out went the freedom to perform a "flying tackle," a dangerous hit where a player launches himself off the ground into the ballcarrier. Also banned was the popular blocking method whereby players locked arms with each other to form a mobile wall. Nevertheless, helmets would not become mandatory in college football until 1939, and even they haven't been enough to put an end to death by sport.

 

From 1931-2006, the number of fatalities directly or indirectly caused by football action at just the college level has averaged about 2.5 per year, with hundreds of severe injuries. For high school, the numbers for that period are far worse: nearly 15 fatalities a year on average, with concussions increasing 8% annually from 1997 to 2008, according to the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

 

The Rise of Brain Damage

 

Brain injury has become the elephant in the room for this sport that from the beginning has encouraged a culture where injured players are supposed to rub some dirt on it and get back out there. Only recently have we come to recognize the mortal danger of repeat concussions, or even just single traumatic blows to the head, which can be lethal in either the short- or long-term. In both cases, the results are tragic.


 

References and further information

The original article was produced by The Best Colleges.

 

To view the rest of this article, visit the The Best Colleges website.
http://www.thebestcolleges.org/hard-knocks-college-footballs-wake-up-call/

 

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