Saving Pro Football

The Times has an interesting discussion up on the possibilities for making pro football safe for the human brain. After reading Malcolm Gladwell's piece last year, I've come to doubt whether this is actually possible. Most solutions center around reducing the number of hits:


Football needs "hit counts" like youth baseball has "pitch counts." In baseball, all kids are subject to restrictions because some may suffer cumulative injuries to their elbows. Yet in football we've never thought the brain, which is more important than the elbow, could be subject to the same kind of cumulative injury. That is insanity. 

We should limit exposure to brain trauma risks for kids under 18 because they aren't old enough to accept those risks. By doing that, we can significantly reduce the number of hits they will have suffered by the time they get to the pro level (perhaps by 50 percent). It seems to me that by making youth football safer we can most effectively reduce the risk for cumulative brain trauma going forward for pro players.

One thing I wonder about is expanding rosters and accepting that a player isn't supposed to start the whole game. Like what if you had a time limit on exactly how long Ray Lewis was allowed to be on the field?

I don't know. My sense is that we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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