Should football players wear helmets? ... No

Football would be safer without helmets. Now before you put down this article saying the idea is ridiculous or football without helmets would become a “soft” sport, hear me out.

In the 2018 NFL Combine, Giants running back Saquon Barkley ran a 4.40 second 40-yard dash. When converted, that turns out to be an average sprint speed of 18.6 mph. Now, let’s say that when the same player puts his head down into another player’s helmet while running at the same speed and their head rams to a complete stop in one-tenth of a second. That would mean that the given player’s head is subject to a deceleration speed of 90.9 yd/s/s.

According to the Cleveland Clinic’s website, concussions are a result of the brain twisting around and scraping against the skull, leading to damaged brain cells and chemical changes. If anything can cause a big enough jolt to move the brain around inside the skull, it is the impact of two grown men who exceed 200 pounds running directly into each other. To make matters worse, the players feel safe due to the helmets on their heads, and will put their heads down in an attempt to better absorb the impact. In reality, the helmets provide little protection from a concussion due to the fact that the actual damage to the brain comes from the deceleration upon impact.

If helmets were to be eliminated altogether from the game of football, players would no longer have the false sense of the security that they have now. Players would intentionally avoid lowering their heads into other players and instead tackle with their body weight. The ball carriers would also refrain from using their head as a sort of battering ram in favor of relying on evasive speed rather than brute force.

Some people argue that concussions are t as common in rugby as in football, meaning removing helmets would seemingly make no difference in terms of the rate of head injuries. However, when one looks deeper into how concussions actually occur in rugby, it is usually during what is called a scrum, according to the British newspaper, The Telegraph. Scrums are when  players from each team line up, put their heads down and use their necks and heads to push against the other team, which is doing the same thing in the opposite direction. Players are basically required to jam their head into other people, calling for a neck injury or concussion.

In football, scrums do not exist, and the most pressure ever put on a player’s head is when they put it down and try a ram into defenders for extra yards --a type of play that would be avoided if helmets were removed.

Of course, the removal of helmets from the game of football would not make the game safe; that is not possible in a sport where the world’s largest men tackle each other while running at close to 20 miles per hour; it would just greatly decrease the risk of head injury for those playing the game. Football would remain the same in how the game is played, and the only difference from today’s football would be that players would consciously avoid using their heads as battering rams when fighting for yardage.

Posted on October 31, 2018 .