Remove Helmets to Protect Heads?

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Why has nobody proposed to the NFL, and tackle football leagues everywhere, to completely get rid of helmets? Now I know this might seem like a crazy idea, but here are some reasons why it might, in fact, be a good one. 

We have heard many proposed solutions to the concussion crisis in football such as improved helmet technology, harsher penalties/fines for hits to the head and even to have players target their opponents’ knees rather than their heads. The movie Concussion starring Will Smith explored the concussion issue including the development of CTE, a debilitating disease affecting many ex-NFLers that results from repeated head trauma. I ask, have we been ignoring the most obvious solution this whole time? 

Getting rid of helmets might sound like a radical change in football, but let’s look back to the early days of NFL football. The issue of concussions and other problems related to blows to the head was not nearly as big a problem back then as it is today. Back then, it was more of a “ground and pound”  type of game, whereas today, in a passing league, highlights are generated from “big hits,” which more and more players seem to desire being a part of.

In rugby, where they do not wear helmets, the concussion rate is 75% lower, and possibly even more given that many NFL concussions are not reported following week 12.  Please click this link to see the recent study.

But today, the better the helmets, the more motivation it gives players to tackle with their heads. Oftentimes, when a teammate scores or makes a big play, players head butt each other or whack each other with their helmets. Of course in these instances, players have no intention of hurting one another, but every blow to the head counts. In rugby, a no-helmet sport, do you hear about the concussion issue? One might argue the concussion epidemic has only increased because players have motivation to hit with their helmets and not their bodies. But doesn’t it make sense that players wouldn’t lunge into their opponents or even their own teammates with their heads if they didn’t wear protective headgear? Do you really think most people are brave enough (or stupid enough) to bear the pain of spearing someone in the head with their head if they had no protection? I don’t think so. In basketball, you don’t see players celebrating while butting heads. They jump and bump and high five one another, but avoid anything that could contribute to injury. In my opinion, requiring football players to wear helmets gives them the “OK” to knock their opponents in the head with their own heads.

 In 2016, four weeks into the NFL season, there have been a handful of concussions, most notably to Cam Newton. In week one, we saw him get rocked in the top a couple of times with only one penalty called. Most recently, we saw him enter concussion protocol after a week four blow to the head vs. the Falcons. This is clearly an ongoing problem-not just for Cam Newton, but for everyone. 

I’d like to hear your thoughts about this controversial issue. 

About me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a  12th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants and the Yankees. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN2. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

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