Being an avid NFL fan, I bear witness to the huge fan following that the sport has with each season. But when it comes to injuries and scandals, a lot of us have bitten our tongues and focused on just the games and entertainment, without taking a deeper look into the ethical matters surrounding these major sporting events.
It’s hard to swallow that some of the players may have an occupational hazard that can turn life-threatening. That brings me to “NFL.bites”- a term that has become a bit of an open secret among us. It signifies a string of hard-hitting injuries that have made life difficult for some of the players in the last few years, including concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy issues.
Disregarding the aggressive nature of the game, some of the commentators have chosen to pick at the NFL’s attitude towards rendering sustainable safety support to its players. After all, it cares about the entertainment, TV ratings for its fans and off the field earnings far more than the athletes and their well-being. It’s a hard pill to swallow and a bitter truth that can’t be avoided or kicked to the curb.
It can be a real eye opener for any onlookers to know that most of the victims have gone silently about their suffering and have failed to get the justice they deserve. Some have succumbed to disabling injuries and death over the years. Who can forget the aftermath of the disastrous 2013 wholesale nfl jerseys from china season due to an assault case involving Ray Rice? The video clips that surfaced shook us to our cores.
Even some of the alarming predictions of the sport and its issue of personal cajoling have taken a toll on the most devoted fan. Some have been so disheartened that despite their loyalty towards teams; they stepped aside to exercise their right of protest. I get it, the league has promised to take measures, but these days, the number of injuries, call for testing new protocols for safety more than ever.
The sport has been slammed with one out of the blue electromagnetic shock after another, from the harsh body contact nature of the game to the medical malpractice of some of the famous NFL’s coaches. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t affected and didn’t feel pretty awful for the ones affected by it, but I’m glad that measures are being taken to counter it.
To think regarding cruelty towards any athletes as a secondary issue is an invitation for a never-ending loop of excessive pressure and irresponsible judgement on the part of the viewers. For me, football has always been a source of pure joy and entertainment, but at the same time, the fact that these players are putting their lives on the line to entertain us makes the equation of taking the cruelty element out of the game an even bigger issue and definitely something worth striving for.
The league needs to ensure that all the parties involved are well aware of the potential risks and should try improving the safety of the sport more. It doesn’t look a good look for the NFL to be pushing its athletes to their limits. We have seen in recent cases that the athletes should be given more freedom to take part in the games in which their safety won’t be compromised.
What I can’t stop wondering is why endurance tests like concussion protocol are still not mandatory for new NFL draft picks? Also, why do the teams not have enough medical staff and resources available even after decades in this business? It is not only the players that imprisoned under the slogan of ‘safety’, even the team owners need to share the responsibility of ensuring that the players play responsibly, and are properly checked up for potential traps like sub-concussions and severe head injuries.
Despite the legal action taken against the NFL and its teams, it still remains to be seen what steps will be taken to improve their approach towards player safety and true justice for the victims. I hope that the league and its partners will take the initiative to make sure the athletes’ safety how longh is a time-out in the nfl the top priority, and see it as part of their moral compulsion to protect not just the players but the entire sport, from larger harm.
The main agenda needs to be ‘athlete.first’ in order to ensure the players are taken seriously and given fair opportunities to keep playing and excelling in their chosen fields. With the NFL’s promise of stricter rules and better compensation for players, I’m hopeful that the phrase ‘NFL.bites’ will eventually become an archaic memory.
On a more proactive note, teams are now implementing team safety protocols, which include improving medical staff, training facilities and better awareness campaigns around player safety. For instance, the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee is now focusing on the advancements in helmet designs and the installation of video equipment on the field to detect and act on pre-existing injuries.
The increase in medical educational programs and meetings held around the country have been more effective in educating the teams, players and coaches about latest preventative methods and the dangers of ignoring them. As a part of these initiatives, each bucking team now has a full-time athletic trainer to assess and treat injuries.
With the help of scientific research and data recovery methods, the teams are also better able to monitor the microtransactions of pads, helmets and other protective gear for the players’ safety. We’re also seeing advancements in the sideline protectors such as canopies and covering for trainers and medical personnel to keep them safe from injuries on the field.
The NFL has finally realized that it cannot ignore the long term damage and health implications of the sport and has now taken a number of initiatives to address this topic more holistically. There are now stricter policies around player stability and support in the form of medical checks and rehabilitation resources along with the increase in aftercare services and mental health support.
Though there have been challenges on the way to ensure a safer sport, I hope that the change in the 7-a-side coach rule and the pandemic-proof adaptations for league play will prove to be a positive step towards a healthier and safer NFL for its athletes and fans alike. After all, at the end of the day, one cannot downplay the health of the players.