Thursday, August 29, 2013

Didn't see that one coming

You may have figured out that I enjoy football.  I watch a lot of it during the year.  I officiate it at the high school level.  I think it's a great sport.

But the game is hard on the body and is always played on that line between hard and violent.  Sometimes that line is crossed.  And part of my job as an official is to ensure that the game is played within the rules and between the lines.  One of the things that is against the rules and for which I have a low tolerance is players who are obviously out of a play being targeted by an opponent.  When they get hit, they didn't see it coming.  It's dangerous, violent, and not part of the game.

This year there is a major, MAJOR emphasis on concussions.  We are looking to penalize illegal hits to the head, helmet to helmet contact and spearing.  Those have always been in the rules (at least as long as I've officiated), but with the new studies and understandings on concussions, we are becoming more diligent.  There are also new rules about helmet-less players and how we can protect them.  Players have to leave the game if we see any sign that remotely looks concussion-like.

The NFL has been embroiled in the concussion debate for a few years now.  In the wake of people like Jim McMahon who is a shell of his former self and the suicide of Junior Seau, the concussion story is front page news.  Some 4000 former players have filed suit against the NFL claiming negligence and an intentional plan to keep concussion knowledge and concerns from them.  There have been stories that the NFL buried or tampered with concussion evidence.  I, and a whole host of other people, believed the NFL was not forthright in their dealings on this matter, but didn't think there was any way the players would win.

Turns out I was wrong.

I just saw a NYT breaking news story that said the NFL agreed to a $765 million settlement.  I suppose I was technically correct, the players have to settle as oppose to an outright victory; but a $765 million settlement towards "medical exams, concussion-related compensation and a program of medical research for retired players and their families" can be seen as a victory.

I certainly didn't see that one coming.

Here's hoping that this can be dealt with properly, that the game can continued to be played, and that players can be kept as safe as possible.

Oh, and lest you think that football is the big, bad scary concussion sport that needs to be banned, the next highest ranked sports where concussions are a problem are girls lacrosse, girls soccer and girls field hockey.

I bet you didn't see that one coming either.


Lady Anne | 11:24 AM, August 30, 2013  

There was an article on-line not too long ago about a young man - high school, maybe? - being hit in the head. He complained to his coach that his head hurt and he had intestinal pain as well. The coach told the kid to stop acting like a "@$%&* and get his &^@%$ A--back onto the field". The young man died moments later - on the field - of head injuries.

Reverend Ref + | 1:48 PM, August 30, 2013  

That is terribly unfortunate. If he died that quickly, I'm not sure there was much the coach could do, even had he not sent him back onto the field and had someone look at him.

But this points out that coaches need to pay better attention to their players and get rid of the "macho" image.

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