Has football gotten too violent


Katelyn Kirby, Social Media Director

   “There is no denying that the violence in football is omnipresent. I cannot predict the future of NFL violence, but it seems unlikely that the NFL will become a gentler league”, said journalist Mark Hauser in an article by Bleacher Report in 2009. Fast forward 14 years to Jan. 2, 2023, when Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field after a tackle. America’s favorite sport has become too violent and is posing an increasing amount of safety concerns on its players.  

   The numerous health and safety risks associated with football are overlooked by many due to their love for the game; however, these risks range in severity from ankle sprains to a brain disease referred to as CTE. CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, is a degenerative brain condition linked to numerous head injuries or repeated blows to the head, which makes it very prevalent within the football community. According to USA Today, a study done by Boston University in 2017 concluded that out of 202 football players from differing levels (high school, college, etc.), 87% of them had signs of CTE. CTE can lead to dementia, mental health illnesses, impulse control problems and more. According to The New York Times, CTE has been identified in the brains of more than 320 former NFL players. Unfortunately, many of these former players have been involved with violent crimes, suffered an early death, or committed suicide. There is no cure for CTE, but there are temporary treatments to ease certain symptoms.  

   Another danger is ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is a nervous system disease that professional football players are four times as likely to develop, according to UCLA Health. With this disease, nerve cells break down and the muscles become very weak. ALS is generally thought to have an unknown cause; however, according to National Public Radio, studies have suggested that the violent nature of football could be a possible cause. In fact, ALS and CTE have been linked and are both common diseases in football players.  

   Damar Hamlin suffered a heart attack while playing in a professional football game on Jan. 2nd. According to People, some health professionals believe his injury could have been commotio cordis, a condition caused by a blow to the chest that disrupts the heart rhythm. The director of the New England Cardiac Arrhythmia Center at Tufts Medical Center, Dr. Christopher Madias, said, “This very well could have been a commotio cordis event, which is a sudden cardiac arrest from a dangerous heart arrhythmia that is induced by the chest blow”, and added that “it has to really be a perfect storm of a chest blow at the exact right place with the exact amount of force at the exact right time.” 

   Damar Hamlin’s injury has made national news and has shed light on the violent nature of football; however, he is not the only one. There have been many football players in the past who have suffered career-ending injuries, or, like Hamlin, life-threatening injuries. Restructuring the game, enforcing new protective gear and creating a licensing board are a few ways professional football could be turned around to improve player safety. Are we going to watch more and more players continue to suffer or are we going to prioritize their safety? 

Additional reading:

Damar Hamlin may have suffered “remarkably rare” condition, Dr. Agus says – CBS News

Damar Hamlin Shared a Moving Message About His Recovery (msn.com)