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NFL: The “Show Must Go On” While Serious Brain Injuries Occur

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Donald Parham had a scary hit to the turf, the game immediately continued, how is this ok?
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When entering the game of football, there needs to be an understanding of how serious brain injuries can get. It can be a scary sight to see your son or teammate take a hit to the turf and get knocked out cold.

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Regardless of the improvement of football helmets, the seriousness of head injuries and their constant occurrence is still a huge problem within the sport. How is it ok for football players to hop back into play after getting knocked out cold? Many would say that it is their job and that since they are under contract, their playing time is money. It is crazy to think that a player’s health could be overlooked from money being the first priority.

Donald Parham on the LA Chargers took a hard hit on December 16, 2021 against the Chiefs. As soon as he hit the ground his arms locked and shook uncontrollably. It was a scary sight to witness and he was later diagnosed with a concussion. His teammates on the LA Chargers had no time to take in what had just had happened on the field to their teammate. Both the Chargers and Chiefs seemed shaken up by what happened, knowing that the same could possibly happen to any of them. However, with no time to waste, the players had to go right back into play.

Time is money especially in the NFL, but players’ health and mental stability should be the first priority when it comes to the severity of injuries that could occur.

Why is the main concern Parham being able to play, rather than assessing the impact of the head injury?

Most articles’ focuses were on when Parham would be discharged from the hospital and when he will be back on the field. We should be looking at the risks that Parham has. If he takes another hit, it could possibly damage his brain permanently. Parham’s head injury could lead to future mental health concerns.

Has anyone thought to think of the impact that brain injuries can have on retired players?

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During the time that players are in the NFL, they sacrifice their bodies for the sport. They take risks that could severely damage their brain from head injuries.

NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson in 2018 brought attention to how former NFL players are having financial health problems. He argued that all players should have health insurance once retired due to the amount of stress they put on their bodies.

The amount of pain that some of the players go through is unreasonable to not provide health insurance for the rest of their lives after their careers. The NFL is a billion-dollar industry, meaning they should be capable of obtaining insurance.

The number of concussions a player has can lead them closer to a permanent brain injury. This can also be concerning for their mental health down the road. Once a player has recovered from a concussion, the NFL should consider their mental state as their first priority, not money.

It seems that after a player retires, there is no talk about them unless they were one of the top players. There needs to be more awareness of the health conditions that some of these athletes are in when retired. Their health probably took a hit after not having the medical resources that they had during their time in the NFL.

Retired and current players should not be seen as just another number that played in the NFL. The NFL organization should have more consciousness with their players’ health conditions when playing and when retired.

 

 

Author

  • Brazilian and Canadian writer bringing more attention to women in sports, and mental health awareness in athletes. Attending the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.