Have you seen the ads the NFL is running during exhibition games trying to calm the nerves of worried parents about their kids playing football? Expressing concern is great but a new article out in the Wall Street Journal on the impact of concussions in the classroom is likely to take the steam out of this effort.
I am not talking about the ubiquitous ‘Play 60’ campaign. That at least has the goal of getting kids to be active. I am talking about the campaign, aimed mainly at women, to calm their fears about the dangers of their sons playing football– http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=m3iE6Jnh8jU; http://www.nflevolution.com/article/nfl-health-update:-pop-warner-endorses-heads-up-football?ref=0ap1000000227382; http://www.nflevolution.com. The ads boil down to saying the NFL is concerned, it is doing research, and don’t be worried—played the right way football is nothing to worry about.
Sounds good but it is not true. Not the concern which I think is genuine. But the idea that played the right way, football is nothing to worry about. The injury list coming out of NFL training camps around the NFL— is a horror show and these are camps with reduced contact this summer. And, worse are injuries to the head which helmet, proper fitting, bans on spearing and mouth guards do not seem to blunt.
The league is nervous and it should be. This article just out in the Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324108204579022770562136360.html?mod=rss_Health will soon have parents, grandparents and everyone else in the USA wondering if this is a game elementary, junior high or high school kids really ought be playing. When you stretch concussion dangers into sitting out in the classroom the stretch is going to be too far for many parents to take.
The NFL safety ad campaign is an effort to recognize that safety has to be a primary concern for the league and those who coach or who work with football players. The toll of blown knees, torn ACLs, bruised lungs, and concussions on display this summer adding to ever mounting research showing the toll brain injury takes on performance and learning means the NFL has got more than enough reason to want to talk to those moms. The problem is that right now there is not much assuring to say.