Football is a sport that has captured many peoples' hearts. The interceptions, the touchdowns, the excitement, the passion and, most importantly, the aggression – many would be devastated if the NFL ended. But that just might happen soon.
Football is facing a large problem: concussions. Recently, media has shed attention on the long term damage that concussions cause. Coupled with the frequency with which they're occurring, this might be reason enough to end football forever. Thankfully, there are current attempts to address this scary health issue.
One of these attempts is to have players practice without helmets. On first glance, you might think this decreases players' protection, therefore making it even more likely for them to suffer a concussion. But think again: without this protection that many players take advantage of, some researchers believe that players might become more aware of clashing helmets together. Researchers further suggest that this might make them more cautious.
So far, this theory has only been practiced by players at the University of New Hampshire. Professor of kinesiology at this university Erik Swartz says the base of the problem is technique. Swartz is a former rugby player, which is how he came up with the idea of practicing without helmets. Many times, football players tackle head first, but Swartz indicates that it's safer for players to keep their heads up and clash chest to chest.
The ongoing New Hampshire study involves two teams with 25 players each. The control group wears helmets while the treatment group does not. Each player wears a sensor behind his ear of to monitor the amount of impact to his head during intense drills. The goal is for the players to think more about their tackling technique, a habit that researchers hope will lead to safer play in games, too.
In the future, researchers hope to develop safe methods so that players will suffer less head trauma. This will allow football to continue being the game that we all love so much!