Seeing Stars: Concussions Going out of Style

When people think of the word “technology,” the first items that come to mind are probably the cell phone, computer, or even social media. But technology can be more than tangible objects. Technology can be broken down into three words: apparatus, technique, and organization. Essentially, the word technology can represent a wide range of things, including a way of life—techniques used by a people to survive and grow their society. In this case, the term “technology,” is being used to represent an ideal or even societal norm. These norms can be beneficial or destructive, depending on the nature of the setting or the specific technology.

These ideal-type technologies can be taboo in a culture. A technology that has gone from being taboo in nature, to a topic of debate in sports circles, is concussions in sports. There is a certain technology, or way of thinking and acting, when it comes to this specific type of head injury. This way of thinking has evolved, and with it, the forms of treatment and amendments in policy surrounding concussions, especially in sports. There has been a shift, just in the past decade, in the way concussions are handled and perceived.

Concussions were once thought of as a badge of honor, a symbol of toughness. In the past, players who got their “bells rung” were expected to merely shake it off. It was almost “cool” to get a concussion when playing a sport. This is true not only with concussions, but most injuries in sports. An attitude of toughness is expected, along with the spirit of competition that comes with athletics. But a concussion is much different than a sprained ankle or jammed finger; a concussion is trauma to the brain.

A player who gets a concussion usually sustains some sort of blow to the head, resulting in temporary loss of normal brain function (AANS). The brain is bruised when it collides with the skull after the trauma occurs. In severe cases, the brain will actually swell, potentially causing serious brain damage. Wide ranges of symptoms are associated with a concussion, but the most prevalent symptom is the inability to remember what happened directly before the incident occurred. Other general symptoms include headache, vision disturbances, difficulty concentrating, nausea, confusion, and memory loss (AANS). When left undetected, concussions can result in long-term brain damage and may even prove fatal.

Receiving one concussion will likely not cause permanent damage, but athletes take a risk when they receive multiple concussions. Often times, these concussions occur before the brain has had time to heal, and this has resulted in drastic policy changes concerning diagnosis and treatment in sports.

Concussions are prevalent in all sports, surprisingly, and not just in football. Below, the numbers indicate the amount of sports concussions taking place per 100,000 athletic exposures, regardless of the amount of time played (Head Case):

  • Football: 64-76.8
  • Boys Ice Hockey: 54
  • Girls Soccer: 33
  • Boys Lacrosse: 40-46.6
  • Girls Lacrosse: 31-35
  • Boys Soccer: 19-19.2
  • Boys Wrestling: 22-23.9
  • Girls Basketball: 18.6-21
  • Girls Softball: 16-21.2

It is not surprising which sport has the highest incidence of concussions—football—but it is interesting that concussions occur so frequently in nearly every sport. In fact, when statistics concerning the occurrences of concussions are combined from all sports in the United States, the numbers are staggering (Head Case):

  • 3,800,000 concussions were reported in 2012, double what was reported in 2002.
  • 33% of all sports concussions happen at practice.
  • 39% — the amount by which cumulative concussions are shown to increase catastrophic head injury leading to permanent neurologic disability.
  • 47% of all reported sports concussions occur during high school football.
  • 1 in 5 high school athletes will sustain a sports concussion during the season.
  • 33% of high school athletes who have a sports concussion report two or more in the same year.
  • 4 to 5 million concussions occur annually, with rising numbers among middle school athletes.
  • 90% of most diagnosed concussions do not involve a loss of consciousness.

When analyzing the statistics, it appears that the rate of incidence for concussions has drastically increased over the years. But what is actually happening is that concussions are now being diagnosed, rather than ignored. Concussions are currently the hot-topic in sports, and athletic training staffs are now more thorough in assessing injuries of the head.

It has not been all forward progress in concussion awareness. In fact, for an extended period of time, the National Football League (NFL) hindered efforts to change the perceptions surrounding concussions. Shifts in perception have been due to a variety of factors, all of which come down to discoveries from research. Frontline completed a report on the NFL and concussion research. In the article, Frontline includes a timeline with side-by-side comparisons between research discoveries on concussions, versus actions that were taken by the NFL in response to those research findings.

It is rather disturbing, the great divide between the clear proof presented by the research teams, and how the NFL chooses to respond. Football is a lucrative profession, and the NFL’s best interests do not primarily revolve around player health, but player performance and revenue. The NFL was, and is still, mainly concerned with making the most money possible from players before each succumbs to injury.

The NFL, according to Frontline, misinforms their own players, forming their own committee to do so. This committee was designed to “investigate” the reports of concussions in the NFL and in the sport of football in general. This committee is a sham, according to many players, and is only in place to withhold data and spread misinformation. In doing so, the NFL profits from glorifying violence, at the cost of the players participating. Many of these players end up paying with their lives, with severe and continual head traumas leading to depression, dementia, and suicide.

Not only does the NFL deny that concussions result in increased risk of further brain damage, but the committee also encourages junior and senior high organizations to put aside the research being reported. The NFL is not only playing with the brains of professional adults, but is also putting thousands of growing brains at risk.

It wasn’t until December, 2009 that the NFL finally publically acknowledges the long-term effects of concussions. This was after nearly 20 years of denying constant scientific reports that documented the immediate and long-term effects of concussions in football. It is hard to believe that the NFL faced minimal consequences, only required to pay $765 million dollars in damages (Frontline). In return, the NFL did not have to accept any responsibility. To this day, there is no admission of guilt by the NFL, nor admission that any symptoms presented during or after a career were caused by football.

The extensive research that has been completed disrupts the social relationships between the athlete and the athletic organization. Before in-depth analysis of the consequences of concussions, there was a hierarchy in place in the world of professional athletics. Specifically, the NFL commission provided the football entertainment people demanded, using talented football players to do so. The players were expected to follow the direction of the commission, as the commissioner is in charge of the rules and regulations in the NFL. This can be seen as an authoritarian approach to sports.

The switch in the artifact politics surrounding concussions occurs after the NFL/player lawsuit. The NFL transitioned from an authoritative to a servant role. The commission, in the players’ minds, should serve the players and have the health of the players as the top priority.

Luckily, the sport seems to be heading in the right direction, even with the tampering done by the NFL. There have been sweeping rule changes instituted in college and professional football. In the NFL, kickoffs were brought out by five yards in order to decrease the number of high impact collisions. One has to think, though, that the NFL is making changes only for their own self-interest. The healthier a player, the longer a player will stay in the NFL and make the league more money. It is hard to believe the league actually cares for the players more than their own wallets. If it were not for the push of the media, and a few brave scientists, there would not have been a shift in the way society has started looking at head injuries. For one, society is now looking at concussions as a serious problem in sports. There is still a lot of work and amendments to make in the rulebooks, but it is a start.

While the NFL has made some strides in head injury prevention, other sports, like boxing, still lack proper policy. The irony, and a catch-22 of the modern approach to head-injury, is that although concussions are now going out of style, head-protective equipment is following suit. There is another social stigma about using head protection and other devices that are specifically designed for the safety of its wearer. A good example of this is wearing a helmet when riding a bike or any other recreational activity on a set of wheels. It is strange that people are mocked for wearing a helmet when riding a bike, when it could save a life. Why would someone not want to wear a helmet? The answer always seems to be leaning toward the side of social pressures and not looking “nerdy”.

This is the reason boxing remains a sport lacking a concussion policy. To enforce rules surrounding head injury would completely alter the sport. And then there are pitchers in baseball. Some are beginning to wear head protection, but most choose not to because the headgear are often cumbersome.

This also begs the question, where is the line going to be drawn? At what point is the integrity of the game compromised? And, are the people who are making these decisions swayed by profit, or acting out of true concern for the players?

At some point, the risks have to be accepted by all those involved. Injury is a risk we all face in everyday living, and playing a sport only increases that risk, no matter the sport. People enjoy playing and watching sports for the competitive atmosphere. Society is not going to eliminate high-risk sports entirely, and so, to a point, consequences must be understood and accepted. But a big part of this, is assuring that all parties involved are properly educated, in order to make informed decisions. This is the biggest advantage that comes with the transformation in the technology of concussion, because people are now finally knocking out the “normal” societal views of concussions.

Works Cited:

Ezell, Lauren. “Timeline: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis.” Frontline. PBS, 1 Jan. 2015.

Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

<http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sports/league-of-denial/timeline-the-nfls-concussion-crisis/&gt;.

Head Case. HeadCaseCompany, 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

<http://www.headcasecompany.com/concussion_info/stats_on_concussions_sports&gt;.

“Patient Information.” American Association of Neurological Surgeons. 1 Jan. 2015.

Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

<http://www.aans.org/patient information/conditions and treatments/concussion.aspx>.

Winner, Langdon. Do Artifacts Have Politics? 1986.

Integration of Technology in Sports

There are not many things that can unite a global audience the same way sports can. It is not difficult to see these instances during such events such as the Olympics or the World Cup, but it is extremely unlikely to successfully recreate such an atmosphere. Sports create a global village quite similar to, yet possibly more joyous than the global village Marshall McLuhan wrote about. Even with such unparalleled power, changes are still necessary for athletics. There are constant adjustments being made to sports in the forms of technology, rules, equipment, and even the athletes that participate. Some of these changes are made to protect the people involved in the competitions, others are made to create more offensive opportunities, but perhaps the most interesting changes are those being made to keep pace with the ever-changing world of technology. All of the changes made have their own impacts on the sports in which they are involved.

Technology is a major factor when it comes to how sports operate and how they evolve over time. There are also many different ways to look at what is classified as technological advancements. The first thing that comes to mind when somebody thinks of technology in sports is most likely the use of video replay and its integration and growth since its initial use in the 1960’s. Obviously since its inception, the techniques, systems, and efficiency of video replay have all drastically evolved, but the creator witnessed his invention’s impact. He noted “I changed the way things were normally done. That’s very hard to do in life” (1). The creation of instant replay led to the ability to review plays and decisions. With that ability, some basics of sports began to change. In the current age, it seems as if video review is becoming more expansive each year. There are no arguments that attempt to say video review results in fewer correct calls. However, there are still negatives to the heavier integration of technologies such as video review. The use of these new technologies is often seen as taking the human element out of the sports, therefore fundamentally changing the sports that were created centuries ago. The aspect of human error has created some of the most memorable sports moments in history. The spirit of the game comes from the human error not only in the players, but also in the officials. As well as the spirit of athletics being tarnished, a major concern with a technology such as video review is the potential damage it does to the timing and flow of a match. Momentum and rhythm are influential, yet often overlooked. With the entire process of reviewing a play taking a substantial amount of time, the adrenaline and flow can easily be lost. For both the MLB and NFL, not including officials stopping the game, finding out exactly what must be reviewed, walking to the review station, explaining the decision to all parties involved, and restarting the game afterwards, the average review time hovered right around two minutes. To go along with the time wasted, approximately half of all reviews did not constitute a call being overturned. This may not seem like a long amount of time, but when a game changing play can happen in a fraction of a second, those minutes of being completely removed from gameplay can, and does, make a monumental difference (2)(3). The main positive associated with the use of new technology is more accurate and consistent officiating. The main negative is the possibility of damaging the spirit and flow of a game. The positives outweighing the negatives is still up for debate according to many people.

With new technology coming to prevalence, new rules and regulations must accompany them. This may be the easiest area to see how new technology directly affects how a game or match is conducted. For a new rule to be fully implemented, it takes time. Like any other change to a major league, it must be approved by the governing heads of the league and usually by a majority of the teams involved in the league. With many different interests and affects for each proposed rule change, it can take a years to pass the proposal. Some rule changes connected to technology are minor while others present more of a major change. For instance, a more minor change occurred recently in the National Hockey League regarding television timeouts. After an icing occurs, television timeouts are no longer allowed to interrupt the game. This is meant to keep tired defensive players on the ice and create a more offensive, generally exciting game. This relatively new rule does not change the basic fabric of a sport. For more impactful rule changes, it is helpful to look at the National Football League. Recent times have seen concussion lawsuits and much discussion on the topic of head injuries. As a way to combat these discussions, new rules were created that limited the way a player is allowed to make contact and tackle another player. To some fans, this may decrease the excitement by limiting some of the larger hits. The new rules also have an effect on players. For a professional who has played the sport a certain way his entire life, it is not easy to change habits, especially when they have gotten him to the largest stage of the game. A player having to change his technique is much easier said than done, and it can create a disadvantage for the player who excels in the newly outlawed practices. Some changes are made to protect the athletes, and some are made to create a product more desirable for fans. Sometimes the two interfere with each other. Never do the rules have absolutely zero impact on the game that athletes and fans have grown to love.

As science and knowledge progress, the opportunities for advancing the human body arise. Over time, we are able to witness the evolution of the athlete. This is due to better knowledge on what to put into your body, how to get the most out of your body, and how to recover from serious workouts or injuries. There have been many new treatments, supplements, and drugs to help any of the processes listed above. Another key component of the advancement of athletes is the constant drive for success and superiority. Advancements in technology have allowed athletes to become exponentially better over time. A prime example is looking at the world record for a one mile run. Back in 1865, the record was a time over four and a half minutes. Less than one hundred years later, the record had plummeted and reached the first ever sub 4 minute mile in 1954. The current world record was set in 1999 with a time of approximately three minutes and forty-three seconds (4). It is easy to see the correlation between time and athletic performance. However, a common belief is that the human body is quickly approaching its limits. If, and more likely when, this happens, it will be interesting to see if there is any new technology to help push through the physical barriers that hold back the barrier. With the advancement of technology helping to advance the athletes, it is beneficial for those involved. Although, it is beneficial, it also creates scenarios previously unvisited. With such improved athletes, new rules must be created on occasion to keep the boundaries of the game stable.

As previously mentioned, athletes and rules are constantly evolving and changing in the world of sports. Equipment is not an exception. Companies strive to produce the best option so players are willing to pay top dollar for their products. Depending on its purpose, a product must stand up to the competition in the performance areas, safety areas, or most likely, both. New technology allows the safety equipment to be stronger and lighter at the same time. This is where companies cannot sacrifice structural integrity for weight. For high performance equipment where protection is less necessary, structural integrity can be compromised. For instance, hockey sticks are much lighter and much more powerful than traditional wooden sticks thanks to their construction, but anybody who has watched a single professional game in a recent season has more than likely witnessed a few broken sticks. The tradeoff of improved performance for the possibility of the stick failing is one most players are willing to make. The newer, more advanced equipment is meant to help players perform at the levels they desire. As far as safety equipment goes, helmets are the main point of focus. Since head injuries are usually considered to be the most serious, there are companies trying to innovate new ways to better protect the head. From season to season and game to game in the major football and hockey leagues, new helmets with new technologies will make their debuts. Riddell, the largest helmet manufacturer in the nation, recently unveiled their latest model with goals to decrease concussions when the head is impacted. The design is heavily altered compared to previous models, and that innovation helps keep Riddell at the top of the chain when it comes to helmet manufacturers (5). These goals to protect players also tie into the rules that are created for protection of players, especially when it comes to serious head and brain injuries.

Perhaps the largest change sports have seen with the advancements in technology is that pertaining to money. With televisions, internet, radio, and other mediums being involved in the money making world of sports business, the amount of money thrown around has multiplied. Salary caps and contracts have become much larger, stadiums and arenas have become more lavish, and advertisers have become willing to spend astronomically to get their advertisement out there. In the MLB, which does not have an active salary cap, the average salary jumped by nearly $500,000 to a record high 3.8 million dollars. With 910 current MLB players, that is a lot of money, not even including the managers and other staff members. This is astonishing considering the average was as low as one million dollars as recently as 1992 (6). The boom of the internet, expansion and growth of the television and its networks, and new gadgets with internet capabilities have all led to larger monetary gains by the league. The increased monetary inflow led to increased salaries, especially in the big market cities. With such large salaries, the intents of the athletes can reasonably be questioned. Playing a sport for passion and for love is a complete different action than simply playing for a paycheck. Somewhat connected to the idea of self-representation over different mediums discussed by Julia Watson in “Studying the Digital Self”, most fans never personally interact with their favorite players. They don’t get to discover their motives for playing in a certain city, or even playing that sport. A hot topic for the MLB to consider is their neglect of a salary cap. A decently popular opinion with a strong backing is that the lack of a salary cap allows the teams with larger incomes to possess an unfair advantage over smaller clubs. Not only is there an unfair advantage, but the integrity of the game can also be damaged. A player’s loyalty to one team can dissipate when a larger offer from better funded club arrives. The money will never stop growing because the technology involved in sports is only growing faster.

Technology and sports have become intertwined. There are many positives that are the driving force behind this continuing integration of technology into sports, but there are also some negatives to consider. From video review and television to protective and performance equipment, the world of sports is ever-changing. Athletes also change with time, and so does the nature of the sports they play. With something as unique as sports, something that holds the power to unite people from all over with countless differences, it is important to not let these changes destroy the basics that billions have come to love. Change is important, but it is also dangerous.

(1)          Schiavenza, Matt. “Instant Replay’s Quiet Revolutionary.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 19 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(2)          “Has Expanded Replay Worked Well In Baseball? Here’s Our Call.”FiveThirtyEight. N.p., 12 Sept. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(3)          “Breaking down an Average NFL Game.” SportsonEarth.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(4)          “The World Record for the Mile Run.” The World Record for the Mile Run. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(5)          Avila, Jim, and Serena Marshall. “Riddell Unveils Overhauled New Football Helmet SpeedFlex.” ABC News. ABC News Network, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(6)          ESPN Internet Ventures, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

Personal Research Reflection

All throughout my life, I have been very big into sports. It didn’t matter if I was playing a sport, attending a game in person, or simply watching a game on TV while sitting on my couch. Before I could even walk, I would have a soccer ball at my feet or a stick or bat in my hands. I had a natural love of sports and competitions in general. As I grew up, I became more infatuated with the concept of competition. I grew up with three siblings, and being the youngest, I had plenty of competition to grow up with.

If someone has been with me while I play in a game or watch my favorite teams play, they know that I get very emotionally invested in the game, probably to an unhealthy level. One of the aspects of sports that bothers anyone who is involved is the fact the refs sometimes get calls wrong. In the professional leagues and some major college sports, they have something most people never have the chance of using in a game; they possess the ability to have advanced technology to try to get the right call every time. Of course, the most widely used technology is that of instant video replay. I can’t even count the amount of times I would be in the middle of a competition and wish there was a way to go back and watch a play that recently occurred. However, with that being said, some of my favorite moments in sports were only able to occur because the use of advanced technology wasn’t available to be used. Another possible downside to the use is that it could ruin the momentum and flow of a game. Many people love sports for the roller coaster ride of events and emotions they provide.

Not only was I born with a natural love of sports and grow up around siblings that created a sense of competition in everything we did, but I witnessed my hometown sports teams win multiple championships throughout my life. Thanks to this, I became even more inclined to follow sports closely. I loved sports for more than just the competition and adrenaline rush that they provided. They give a way to learn valuable lessons and time to just relax without any worries.

For a while, I have thought about the effects that advancements in technology have in the world of sports. I never had any real desire to write a paper on it, but as I dug a little deeper and looked a little further into the topic, I found it would be easy to write about a subject I have been thinking about for years. Obviously there are many different opinions from many different people on how much, if any, advanced technology should be used in modern day sports. With all the opinions out there, I am more interested in the facts that lead to opinions. With a love for sports and competition I have held for my entire life, along with the events that led me to growing as a fan and participator, investigating something that affects sports so drastically is something I find easy to do.

Money over Matter; Literature Review of Concussions in NFL

One of the main articles I found to be a good source of information concerning the NFL and concussions was a timeline written up by Frontline. The article presents on one side, the independent research done by scientists on concussions in football. Directly opposite of this, Frontline compares the research to public statements made by the NFL concerning concussions and concussion research.

It is rather disturbing the great divide between the clear proof presented by the research teams, and how the NFL responded. Football is a lucrative profession, and the NFL’s best interests are not in player health, but player performance and revenue. The NFL was, and is still, mainly concerned with making the most money possible from players before each one succumbs to injury.

The NFL also misinformed their own players, by forming their own committee. This committee was designed to “investigate” the reports of concussions in the NFL and in the sport of football in general. This committee was a sham, according to many players, and was only in place to withhold data and spread misinformation. In doing so, the NFL profited from glorifying violence, at the cost of the players participating. Many of these players ended up paying with their lives, with severe and continual head traumas leading to depression, dementia, and suicide.

Not only did the NFL deny that concussions resulted in increased risk of further brain damage, but the committee also encouraged junior and senior high organizations to put aside the research being reported. The NFL committee suggested that return to play should come at the discretion of a team physician, saying that it was silly to come up with strict guidelines for possible head trauma. The committee even claimed that NFL players are the result of a selective process which weeds out individuals susceptible to concussions. The NFL is not only playing with the safety of the brains in professional adults, but was also putting thousands of growing brains at risk. Young people are impressionable, and the NFL acted irresponsibly and selfishly.

It isn’t until December of 2009 that the NFL finally publically acknowledges the long-term effects of concussions. This is after nearly 20 years of denying glaring scientific reports that displayed the immediate and long-term effects of concussions in football.

It is hard to believe that the NFL was able to get off nearly scot-free, only having to pay $765 million dollars in damages. In return, the NFL did not have to accept any responsibility. To this day, there is no admission of guilt by the NFL, and still claim any symptoms presented during or after a career were not caused by football.

Luckily, the sport seems to be heading in the right direction, even with the tampering done by the NFL. There have been sweeping rule changes instituted in college and professional football. In the NFL, kickoffs were brought out by five yards in order to decrease the number of high impact collisions. One has to think, though, that the NFL is only making changes in their own self-interest. The healthier a player, the longer a player will stay in the NFL, and make the league more money. I have a hard time believing the league actually cares for the players more than their own wallets. If it were not for the push of the media, and a few brave scientists, there would not have been a shift in the way society has started looking at head injuries. For one, society is now looking at concussions as a serious problem in sports. There is still a lot of work to do and amendments to make in the rulebooks, but it is a start.

Advancement in Sports Research Question

Throughout my entire life, I have always been a sports fanatic. I enjoy watching and participating in virtually any sport known to man and I am always interested in trying sports new to me. With so much of the world changing as technology rapidly progresses, I thought it would be especially interesting to look at something I personally have never really spent too much time on before; what effects do he rapid changes in technology have on sports at a professional and amateur statuses?

Growing up, I was always around sports. When I wasn’t participating in some organized game within an organized league, I was most likely doing one of two things. I could probably be found either watching some sport related program on TV, or more likely, I could be found playing some type of athletic game with my friends. It didn’t even have to be an actual game either; plenty of times we would combine multiple sports or come up with a completely new sport in our minds simply because we had a love for sports.

A large influence on my infatuation with sports was my older siblings. Being the youngest of four children, I spent a lot of time looking up to my brothers and sister, and they also spent large amounts of time talking about or participating in sports. Also, some of my earliest memories are set at professional sporting events. For instance, I recall being a young child and attending a hockey game when a hat trick was scored. At the time, I couldn’t get over the fact of how joyous the fans. I remember watching the hats rain down onto the ice and being slightly confused as to why people were doing so. Whether it was being at a game in person or watching a game on TV with friends and family, I always found myself completely invested. It sometimes may have reached an unhealthy level.

Two of my personal favorite things in the world are the Olympics and the World Cup. Not only have I played soccer my entire life and consider myself a fanatic of most sports, but the unity that comes along with these events is unparalleled. For an entire month, the entire world is captivated by sports. Something so ancient and so simple brings people together in a way nothing else can. With the technological advancements we have seen in recent years, the involvement of the viewer, in my opinion, has increased thanks to the ease and multitude of ways to remain informed on the events. The fans from all over the world can forget about problems and wars and violence for a month and focus on sports.

I have a general love for sports. I’ve spent countless hours watching, participating, and researching them. I’ve sat through an entire triple overtime playoff hockey game without moving due to superstitions. I’ve been in love with sports as long as I can remember, and that’s not only for the entertainment it brings me. Playing sports was always a way to clear my mind, forget all problems, and simply enjoy life. Some of my best memories are centered on sports and that has led me to constantly wanting to know more about the subject. Taking something I am so fond of and combining it with topics from our class, I thought the changes in sports due to changes and advancement in technology was a great idea. Sports and technology intertwine. Both are constantly changing, and both have the power to change our lives.

Knocking Out Societal Views of Concussions

For this blog post, I would like to fine tune my thesis and focus on concentrating on a single topic concerning concussions. In my last blog post, I created an outline for my paper, using a wide range of research articles and sources. This created a wide range of topics, and gave way to a diluted thesis. Going through the articles, a common theme that I found most interesting was how receiving a concussion is not as “cool” as it used to be.

The ironic part, and the catch-22 of the modern approach to head-injury, is that although concussions are going out of style, head-protective equipment is following suit. There is a social stigma to using head protection and other devices that are specifically designed for the safety of its wearer. A good example of this is wearing a helmet when riding a bike or any other recreational activity on a set of wheels. I find it strange that people are mocked for wearing a helmet when riding a bike when it could save a life. Why would someone not want to wear a helmet? I find the answer to always be leaning toward the side of social pressures and not looking “nerdy”.

This idea of concussions being “cool” of course is most prevalent in entertainment media and sports. In movies and books, characters are constantly “knocked out” by the protagonist; only to awake a few hours later, kidnapped. This is not how it would play out in real life, and serious brain damage would incur if such a thing were to happen.

The main part of my essay, and my thesis, would surround concussions in sports played in America. I would like to examine how entertainment, profit, “fun of the sport” and actually appearing “cool” factor into how concussions are viewed, treated, and policed.

Some sports are doing more than others in prevention and treatment of concussions. Football, for example, is implementing rule changes in the hopes of decreasing the number of high-velocity collisions a player is involved in during while competing. This also begs the question, where do we draw the line? At what point is the integrity of the game compromised? And, are the people who are making these decisions swayed by profit, or acting out of true concern for the players?

At some point, I believe that risks have to be accepted by all those involved. Injury is a risk we all face in every day living, and playing a sport only increases that risk, no matter the sport. People enjoy playing and watching sports for the competitive atmosphere. I do not see society doing away with high-risk sports entirely, and so, to a point, consequences must be understood and accepted.

The disparity between sports is staggering, when you look at the wide range of treatments and rules that are implemented concerning concussions. The “coolness” of concussions seems to correlate with the amount of awareness among the participants of the sport. In football, at least at the present time, there is a relatively high awareness, and concussions are no longer as “cool” as they once were. But in boxing, there are zero policies surrounding concussions, because the main goal of a boxer is to essentially give their opponent a concussion.

Receiving a concussion is damage to the brain, and yet there is so little awareness or education about the subject. Hopefully with sports and entertainment media leading the way in preventative care, brain injuries will no longer be an acceptable side-effect of a good time.

Advancement of Athletics Outline

Question: How are advancements and evolution of sports changing those sports?

Introduction: Present some changes being made in sports. Changes with technology, rules, athletes, equipment, gameplay. Discuss the different issues that are forcing these changes to occur.

Technological advancements: Talk about the inclusion of video review and expanded video review in the recent past. How does this possibly change outcomes of the game? How does it change the flow or momentum of a game? What are positives and negatives of the use of video review in different situations? How could the current process be improved to create a better overall system that more people can get behind?

Changes in rules: Talk about the process to change rules and how long it usually takes to get a new rule in effect. Discuss how rule changes can change the basic foundation of a game? How far is too far for changing rules? How can changing even simple rules change the game that professionals grew up playing? Changing rules has a potential to damage the integrity or excitement of the game in the eyes of the fans. Get source for correlation between rules and offensive potency, TV ratings, and attendance.

The advancement of the athlete: Discuss how the athlete has evolved and changed throughout the past. What has caused the changes in athletes that we have witnessed? Are the changes in the athletes a driving force behind the other topics discussed in the paper? Is there a human limit to how far athletes can excel and how close are top level athletes to reaching that human limit? Talk about different levels of athletes and the differences in training and routines.

Equipment changes: discuss how safety equipment continuously is changing in an attempt to become safer and more effective. However, there is also the goal that many companies try to achieve which is to get the product a light as possible. Thanks to this goal, along with the desire to beat out other companies, does the structural build of equipment live up to the same standards as previous popular equipment? Can the equipment changes cause a difference in skill levels or gameplay of certain individuals?

Money: Money is perhaps the largest change sports have recently seen. Talk about the differences in professional contracts. Discuss how salary caps have changed the way that professional sports are handled. What is the point of salary caps and max contracts? Discuss what makes an athlete become classified as a professional instead of just an amateur. Explore if college athletes deserve to receive monetary gain for their services as athletes. Finally talk about the monetary deals involved with TV deals, advertisements, and sponsorship deals.

Relation: Discuss any relations between seen between the advancement of athletics and readings assigned in class.

Conclusion: Using different sources found along the way, come to multiple conclusions for the different topics within the paper. Make sure all questions are answered and no loose ends still exist. Answer the main question about the effect of advancements in sports today.