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September 5, 2014

New NFL rules aim to make football safer

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The NFL kicked off its new season last night with new safety measures that may lessen the chance of injury for players.

NFL players commonly sustain head injuries that can have disastrous consequences. After former San Diego Chargers player Junior Seau committed suicide in 2012, doctors found that he had suffered from CTE, a progressive degenerative disease that originates from repeated head injuries.

The NFL’s new policies include concussion experts on the sideline at games, more doctor accountability and rules that cut back on contact between players, according to Demaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association.

“Those are the things that are most likely going to have an impact on decreasing concussions by decreasing exposure to things that might lead to concussions,” he said.

Doctors have learned much more about head injuries in the past decade, according to Dr. Matthew Matava, president of the NFL Physicians Society.

Until several years ago, most athletes who sustained concussions would keep playing, since doctors were unaware of the long-term effects.

Now, a team of about 27 doctors as well as neurosurgeons are present on the field to evaluate players when they are injured, Matava said. In a new policy, referees can also bring a player to the sideline for evaluation if they thinks the player might be hurt, Smith said.

Last year, the NFL reached a $765 million settlement with over 4,500 former players who sued over the long term health damage caused by concussions they received while playing. A judge will give a final decision on the settlement in November.


Warm up questions
  1. Have you ever suffered a sports injury?
  2. What is a concussion?
  3. Have you ever had a concussion or known anyone who had a concussion?
Critical thinking questions
  1. What could be some long-term consequences for the NFL of having multiple players with brain injuries on the field?
  2. President Obama stated recently that he would not let his child play football because of the risk of injury. If you were a parent, how would you make the decision to allow or not allow your child to play football?
  3. The NFL’s new rules state that after being injured, a doctor has to approve a player before that player can return to the field. What are the repercussions if a doctor says that a good player must sit out the game? How could this affect their decision?
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