I’m a little late writing about this, but I don’t get my New Yorkers read in a very timely fashion. The Oct. 19 edition includes an article by Malcolm Gladwell that asks: “How different are dogfighting and football?”
No, it’s not a feature about Michael Vick, although the dog fighting portion does include him. Gladwell states that dog fighting, by design, features injury to participants. He suggests that football is the same in that respect. He’s not talking about week-to-week injuries suffered in games that fans see. Instead it’s about the cumulative brain injury that many players suffer. He also reviews follow-up interviews and research with retired NFL players.
Would better helmets reduce concussions? Probably not, it would only make a lineman feel more invincible and use his head to a greater extent. The following is from a study at the University of North Carolina in which sensors were placed inside helmets:
Most important, though, is what Guskiewicz found when he reviewed all the data for the lineman on that first day in training camp. He didn’t just suffer those four big blows. He was hit in the head thirty-one times that day. What seems to have caused his concussion, in other words, was his cumulative exposure. And why was the second concussion—in the game at Utah—so much more serious than the first? It’s not because that hit to the side of the head was especially dramatic; it was that it came after the 76-g blow in warmup, which, in turn, followed the concussion in August, which was itself the consequence of the thirty prior hits that day, and the hits the day before that, and the day before that, and on and on, perhaps back to his high-school playing days.