Kaepernick and Concussions: Where Do We Stand?Date: August 3, 2017
BY: Keith Egan
The NFL has received various opinions on two different controversial topics. While many are wondering if a new report on concussions could mean the beginning of the end for football, Colin Kaepernick is out of a job after his public protest. My take on both of these topics:
More than 99 percent of former NFL players who donated their brains to science came up positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, according to a new report. The research also showed 91 percent of college football players were effected as well as 88% of Canadian football players.
Evidently, CTE is as much of a problem as it was feared to have been. It is now almost with the cost of playing football at a professional level. The study stretched through all positions as well with 44 lineman, ten linebackers, 17 defensive backs and seven quarterbacks. Now that this data is there, it is up to the NFL to make their move.
The NFL has eliminated two-a-day practices from training camp, changed the kickoff yard marker so that the play ultimately ends in a touchback more often, and is improving the safety of equipment every year. However, the issue of health among players is an issue with more on the line than the NFL’s reputation.
Throughout the nation, while the talk of concussions rise, the amount of youth playing football is decreasing. In 2010, a USA Football study showed about three million kids were playing football. In 2014, that number was down 2.169 million. Safety without a doubt should be a concern when putting kids into youth sports in general without even limiting to football. However, stripping kids away from playing football at a young age could take away from much needed experiences and growth in a child’s young age.
Football is known as the team sport, where a group of eleven on the field, in addition to the participants on the sideline, need to do their job in order for one simple play to work. In no other sport is there the amount of accountability paired with both physical and mental preparation that can change a young boy or girl.
Yes, health is a worry when it comes to sports. Just as you can break a bone in basketball, baseball, soccer and every sport in between, you can do the same in football. However, youth football requires every basic part of padding needed in football while players are taught how to tackle, get tackled and play the game right so that they can keep themselves and others safe.
The recent CTE study that showed professional and college play commonly leads to the disease also showed that there is next to no result of it at the youth football age and 21% in high school. While there is a risk of injury, there is not enough to take away the experience that football can offer to a child.
If your son or daughter is gifted enough, and becomes one of the 6% of high school players that reach the collegiate level, then you are left with allowing your child make an adult decision. However, in a game that has given kids hope that they can make it to college, make a name for themselves, or simply become a better person, taking away their chance of experiencing football because of the risk as a pro is unbeneficial.
Colin Kaepernick has been no stranger to news headlines in the past year. After taking over for QB Alex Smith and leading the 49ers to Super Bowl 47, Kaepernick became a household name as a new quarterback with a bright future. After refusing to stand for the National Anthem, and being outspoken against police’s treatment of African Americans, he is out of a job and known for something more than just a football player.
When Kaepernick first announced he would be kneeling for the Anthem, I felt that the kneeling was causing people to talk about Kaepernick while the issues only increased. When Kaepernick entered practice with socks on that represented the police as pigs, it was a childish act which stirred more chaos instead of any progress being made. Of recent, Kaepernick announced he would stand for the National Anthem this upcoming season, however, in the midst of so much controversy, no team seems to want to take on the burden.
Despite my position on the early actions of Kaepernick, he should not be refused the right to play. Here’s why:
After Kaepernick’s actions that drew immediate headlines, he pledged to donate $1 million dollars of jersey sales to “organizations working in oppressed communities.” That he did, as well as other donations along the way.
That, is what makes progress. Not depicting an important part of our nation as farm animals. Not kneeling for a flag that represents all Americans and only put the attention on the man refusing to stand, but making change in the communities themselves and being the spearhead for something respectful and positive, which most importantly, actually makes a difference.
Kaepernick has steered his ship straight and showed he can be an impactful person who can make a difference, and any team should want that on their sideline. By no means should a team go out of their way to sign a backup quarterback because of the name on their jersey, but any team that can use Kaepernick should not be afraid of the heat they could take. There are much worse accusations made on players still active in the league, and Colin Kaepernick’s effort to make a difference should not be weighed as worse than those instances.
Much of the problem for Kaepernick also is that the pool of teams that are searching for another quarterback is small. The Baltimore Ravens are the main team Kaepernick has been rumored to land after Joe Flacco’s recent back injury. However, there seems to be more problems with signing Kaepernick because of the possible baggage. Sadly, this is the reality of the NFL at times, and hopefully for the sake of Kaepernick and people’s faith in the league, he finds him a home.
Keith Egan is a visual and sound media and journalism major at Seton Hall University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Keith_egan10