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President Obama has brought the contested topic of concussions to the White House. Is this an issue that the federal government would be willing to regulate, or is it a judgment call best left to the country’s sports medicine researchers, team medical staffs, and management? While the nation’s concussions are on the rise, many teams and coaches seem to be in complete denial.
Most notable for this stance is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. It isn’t just the commissioner who is under fire from the mainstream cause of concussion reduction. The entire NFL seems to be increasingly uncomfortable as the conversation and debate escalate.
Dr. John Brannan, of Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine provided us with his expert opinion on the nation’s current hot topic:
“Mild traumatic brain injuries, also known as concussions in the athletic population, are self-limiting injuries. With proper treatment, full recovery is expected. If secondary brain trauma is avoided (due to subsequent trauma,) there are no known long term effects of the injury. Awareness of the initial injury is the most important factor, and taking the necessary precautions to avoid secondary trauma is crucial.”
The president trying to raise awareness of the concussion problem is making the NFL squirm. Obama said his objective was simply to leverage his office as a catalyst in a cultural shift to stop ignoring the warning signs of concussions to athletes. Many parents are avoiding the potential of traumatic brain injuries altogether by discouraging their children to play sports like football or rugby.
While the NFL is locked in legal battles from retired players claiming that they didn’t understand the dangers of concussions, it is starting to see a decrease in the number of children interested in the sport. If this trend continues, there will be a big decline in football’s fan base over the next few decades. Less fans means less ticket and concession revenue, but it also means less on fantasy football, merchandise, and decreasing value for commercial spots during NFL games.
The NFL at least appears to be moving in the populist direction. It promised to donate $45 million to causes expanding certification programs for coaches to learn safer ways to tackle. The irony, though, is that the more money donated and spent by the NFL on this issue, the more obvious the problems and concerns become. Instead of comforting the audience they want to retain, the NFL is underscoring the problem.