Opinion: Football’s problem isn’t the rules, the equipment or the medical care: This sport is lethal

The problem of football lethality is football. The truly dangerous aspect of the sport is playing it.

One month and a day before Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin came frighteningly close to becoming the second in-game fatality in NFL history, he was ejected from the Amazon Prime Thursday night game for an illegal hit on New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers.

Then, as everyone reading this undoubtedly knows, on the aborted Jan. 2 edition of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” Hamlin made a clean tackle against a Cincinnati Bengals receiver, and collapsed seconds later, likely from commotio cordis, or percussion-induced cardiac arrest.

From Salon:

I [Opinion Writer Irvin Muchnick] juxtapose these two plays in Hamlin’s recent career to underscore the point — which was made properly neither in the initial horrified media reaction nor in the feel-good sequel — that “making football safer” is an illusion. For every band-aid fix of the rules, there’s a Newtonian equal and opposite reaction, a cosmic game of life-and-death Whack-a-Mole. In the second Hamlin play above, he was dutifull following the recently emphasized “heads up” tackling doctrine (which is already almost always impossible to execute at game speed). The result left him unconscious on the field, without a pulse, seconds or minutes from death.

But the gatekeepers of phony commercial solutions to existential violence — such as better helmets, no more effective than better mousetraps — want us to focus on only one aspect of football harm. I call this demimonde of deceit and self-deceit “Concussion Inc.”

There have been at least a dozen football deaths, below the professional level, from chest-trauma cardiac events. The classic Journal of the American Medical Association article on the syndrome was published in 2002.. . . . around a fifth of such fatalities occurred in sports, including, of course, from chest blows in football.

“ . . . . in the wake of the Hamlin catastrophe in Cincinnati earlier this month, no more smoke signals to the future contractors of Concussion Inc. to start developing a better protective pad for the precordium (the area in front of the heart). Players are already armored up the wazoo, and the only thing that has accomplished is to give them a false sense of being bulletproof. Few people realize this, but boxing’s transition from bare-knuckles to gloves made the sport far more lethal. Padded gloves protect the hand inside them more than the head it hits, and the diminished fear of broken hands made punches harder, faster and more confident, worsening the damage at the other end.

More here: Salon

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