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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Concussions in Sports

In recent years, the number of concussion related injuries and visits to emergency treatment facilities, for head impact related events, have dramatically risen. Contact sports have always been known for their inherently higher risks to players. Concussion injuries are not a new occurrence, but the rapid rise in the amount of reported concussion injuries are fairly new. There are many theories and ideas concerning the rise of concussion injuries, in modern contact sports. Regardless as to why they are occurring in higher numbers, concussion related injuries are a serious medical issue in modern contact sports. Many agencies and organizations have taken actions and steps to mitigate this serious medical issue (Appenzeller, 2011).

Due to the increased media exposure, medical advancements, higher numbers of concussion injuries, related post-concussion medical complications and deaths, action had to be taken. Many organizations like the NFL, have initiated numerous actions to deal with the concussion issue. Research, equipment modifications, neurological testing, adjustment of game rules, education and other steps have been taken to mitigate the risk of concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries in contact sports. There are also treatment and return to play protocols that have been implemented, along with various rule changes, at the high school, college and professional level. The government has even gotten involved by approving legislation to implement guidelines and to provide funding to procure safety equipment to protect youth athletes (Appenzeller, 2011).

I do believe these organizations have a moral obligation to reduce risks and mitigate further concussion related injuries. Many players over the years, in a variety of sports, have had their lives ruined and in some cases, ended, because of these traumatic brain injuries. Many argue that it comes with the territory and contact sports will always have injuries. While this may be true to a point, there are many areas that can be adjusted to reduce an athlete’s chances of suffering a potentially lethal blow, on the field. It has been well known for over a decade, in the sports and medical industries, that concussion related injuries and many resulting after effects, are a serious and potentially life threatening problem. Did all of these organizations wait too long, to take action, concerning concussion injuries? Many think so and feel that many of the injuries, over the past decade, could have been avoided, if action was taken sooner (Ezell, 2013).

Today, there are many programs and actions being taken by a variety of sports organizations to deal with this issue. They should have been doing this long before they were essentially forced to act. This issue isn’t new and many of the older players suffered needlessly. If these organizations hadn’t taken measures to deal with this issue, there could have been major legal actions, higher costs, the potential shut down of many sports programs and a serious loss of revenue. And that doesn’t include an unknown number of additional casualties on the playing field. Taking care of people is a fundamental concept in any ethical or moral setting. As a civilized society, we must strive to keep sports as a safe and positive activity, instead of returning to the gladiator days of ancient Rome (McGrath, 2011).


Appenzeller, H. (2011). Ethical behavior in sport. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press.

McGrath, B. (2011). Does Football Have a Future? The New Yorker. Retrieved from

Ezell, L. (2013). Timeline: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis. Frontline. Retrieved from

Eric Dempsey
MS, Certified Training for Warriors Level 2 Coach
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