Concussions have been the topic as of late, especially after a new documentary on PBS Frontline called the League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis, which aired earlier this week, shedding light on just how much the NFL knew about concussions. The sad fact is that the NFL knew the impact that repeated concussions had on players for years and they actively silenced former players and families. Yes, the NFL handled the situation completely wrong. But, let’s be honest, there are many professions that involve risks.
NFL players for the most part have played football or sports since they were children. They have always been exposed to the risk of injury, concussions included. But, they continued to play. NFL players play to make a living. They love the game. They love the attention. And frankly, they make plenty of money, regardless of the risks involved.
Although the concussion issue seems to be getting a lot of attention, there are so many other professions out there where job risks continue to prevail. For example, much of medical research involves being around toxic substances and chemicals, where long-term effects are rarely known. But if there weren’t enough people doing this job, we wouldn’t have any medical breakthroughs or advancement in treatment. These researchers put themselves in physical harm every day in hopes of saving lives. They choose to do so.
Whether you play in little leagues or the NFL, playing is a choice. It is the reality of the world. Every choice comes with benefits and consequences. Yes, safety is important, but changing the game won’t solve the NFL’s problems. Being more open about the risks, improving protective equipment and helping players to make informed decisions about risk, is what the NFL needs to do. This may deter potential players, but there will always be people who love the game enough to take on the risks. Players need to realize that playing is a choice — a burden, which they must bear. This is the future of football at all levels of the game.