Editorial: Studying football safety is the right call for our kids

11/26/2015 4:00 PM |

Greenport East Hampton football

Football, by its very nature, is a physical game. And in recent years, the long-term effects repeated hits to the head can have on a player’s well-being have come into light and been widely reported.

A Hollywood film, “Concussion,” is even being released in theaters nationwide next month — two years after the groundbreaking PBS documentary “League of Denial” shed light on the National Football League’s questionable concussion policies.

Now, a bill has been put on the floor in the House of Representatives that proposes to study deaths related to high school football and make some recommendations for the sport on the high school level. We’re glad to hear our local representative in the House, Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), supports it.

Some might say it’s more overreach by the federal government to force their way into the lives of everyday Americans — and Mr. Zeldin said he would prefer to see legislation take shape on the state level. It’s a fair point, but the issue of youth safety on the football field is clearly a national one. Fifty studies of the same issue isn’t very efficient.

In much of the country, Friday nights are dedicated to high school football while Saturdays are reserved for college games and, on Sundays from 1 o’clock onward, pro teams can be found on millions of televisions nationwide. Add in Monday and Thursday night pro games and Friday night college games and it’s getting harder and harder to avoid America’s most popular sport.

If anything, it could be argued that federal legislation calling for a study doesn’t go far enough. Solely seeking to analyze deaths on the high school football field means exploring the rarest of instances, while the issue of avoiding concussions is something teams deal with on a weekly basis.

Of course, all concussions, and even deaths, are not going to be avoided with any study or set of protocols. Football, as one coach points out in our article, is an inherently physical game. Freak accidents occur in any sport.

But research may indicate that every young football player in the country could be safer if a standard set of rules was improved upon on all fields.

For the families of the seven American players who have died as a direct result of injuries sustained on the field this year — and for all the families and friends of players who have died playing the sport — this study will come as little consolation for losing their loved ones. But it will hopefully continue to make the game a safer one for all future players.

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