Tag Archives: policy
By David Stirt
(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt from an article that appears in February issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter)
Data released by the National Football League on Jan. 26, 2017 revealed that while there were fewer players sustaining concussions during the 2016 season (244) versus the 2015 season (271), the 2016 numbers were in line with the five-year average (242) of concussions per season. While the total number of concussions reported in 2016 is lower than the 2015 total, it is higher than the numbers reported in both 2013 (229) and 2014 (206).
“It’s certainly positive that concussions were down this year across categories, but I think putting too much focus on any one year would be mistaken,” said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of health and safety policy. “The goal here is to drive those numbers down through rules changes, culture changes, protocol changes, through greater observation and treatment over a longer term period of time.”
Dr. Robert Heyer, president of the NFL’s Physician’s Society and team internist for the Carolina Panthers pointed out a cultural change within the NFL that may explain, in part, why … (To subscribe, visit http://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell today announced the launch of Play Smart. Play Safe. — “an initiative to drive progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of head injuries, enhance medical protocols and further improve the way the game is taught and played.
“To begin the initiative, the NFL and its 32 club owners have pledged an additional $100 million in support of independent medical research and engineering advancements—building on the $100 million that the NFL and its partners are already spending on medical and neuroscience research—and they have committed to anything and everything to make the game of football safer.
“The Commissioner and the NFL owners said their primary interest is in keeping players and the public informed about important health issues. They acknowledged that while the NFL can never completely eliminate the risk of injury in football, the league will strive to make the game safer for professional athletes down to young athletes first learning how to play.
“To underscore how the NFL plans to achieve its goal of making the game safer, the Play Smart. Play Safe. initiative is organized under four pillars:
- Protecting Players: Making changes on and off the field to protect the health and safety of every player in the NFL.
- Advanced Technology: Championing new developments in engineering, biomechanics, advanced sensors and material science that mitigate forces and better prevent against injuries in sports.
- Medical Research: Supporting independent research to advance progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of head injuries, and accelerate scientific understanding of their long-term impact.
- Sharing Progress: Sharing what the NFL learns across all levels of football—and to other sports and society at large.
“The new, long-term commitment builds on progress the NFL—working with all 32 clubs and the NFL Players Association—has made in recent years to improve health and safety.
“The NFL has made 42 rule changes since 2002 to protect players, improve practice methods, better educated players and personnel on concussions, and strengthen our medical protocols. The NFL has transformed the sideline, staffing each game with 29 medical professionals. Along with the NFLPA, the league recently announced a new policy to enforce the NFL Game Day Concussion Protocol. This new agreement makes clear that there will be serious consequences for any team that fails to follow the protocols.”
“For more information about the initiative, and to read the Commissioner’s letter to fans, please visit www.PlaySmartPlaySafe.com.”
The Ivy League will use an experimental rule for the 2016 football season to move kickoffs to the 40-yard line and touchbacks to the 20-yard line in an effort to reduce concussions and further promote the safety and welfare of its student-athletes.
“This experimental rule change is another example of The Ivy League leading the nation in concussion prevention,” said Executive Director Robin Harris. “Our data showed us that kickoffs result in a disproportionate number of concussions and this rule will allow us to assess whether limiting kickoff returns will reduce the incidence of concussions.”
The goal of the experimental rule is to limit kickoff returns, which account for 23.4 percent of concussions during games despite representing only 5.8 percent of overall plays. The League will evaluate the concussion and kickoff return data after the 2016 season. The request was made to the NCAA as a part of The Ivy League’s overall review of concussions, which began with football in 2010 and has included eight other sports to date (men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, wrestling, rugby). As a result of this comprehensive review of concussions, the League began an all-sports concussion data collection and study in 2013. Data from this study prompted discussion of kickoffs, which led to The Ivy League head football coaches suggesting this experimental rule change. The NCAA granted The League’s request for conference games only.
This experimental rule is the latest in a series of Ivy policies and rules that are designed to limit the incidence of concussions. Most recently in May, The Ivy League formally adopted another policy originating with the League’s eight head football coaches to eliminate to-the-ground (“live”) tackling in practices during the regular season, which will also go into effect with the 2016 campaign. Changing practice rules does not require NCAA approval.