How Ivy League Schools are Reducing Brain Trauma in their Football Players

Ivy League football coaches are eliminating contact from their football practices in effort to reduce brain trauma. The Ivy League consists of eight schools: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale. “Research has shown that limiting the amount of full-contact practices can reduce the number of concussions” according to the NY Times. For example, since the NFL starting adopting these rules in 2012, the number of concussions have dropped significantly in the preseason and offseason practices.

This seems like a pretty simple idea; keep the players from getting hit in the head less, and concussion numbers will drop. Yes, that is theoretically true. But the fact of the matter is that a player can get hit in the head numerous times and be perfectly fine, while another player gets hit in the head once and immediately gets diagnosed with a concussion. It is more about quality than quantity.

Also, players use full contact practices to get their bodies used to the trauma that they will face over the 17 weeks of the regular season and into the postseason. If your body is not used to getting hit over and over again, you will be more susceptible to injuries.

This new rule was inspired by “Dartmouth’s head coach who started having no contact practices in 2010”. The NFL has taken notice to this, and just recently passed a rule limiting the number of “contact” practices allowed over the summer. Also just recently, the Seattle Seahawks broke that rule and were subsequently fined $400,000 while the head coach was fined $200,000, and they lost a draft pick in the NFL draft.

The Ivy League is “not trying to change the nature of the game, just make it safer”. I personally do not see the NFL adapting to full no contact for what I mentioned earlier, the contact helps the players bodies adapt.Cullen Jenkins, a retired defensive tackle, was quoted, “Sometimes I do miss the old live contact practices because they simulated game conditions and helped you prepare for the real thing”. It is the ultimate Catch 22. We can make the game safer but may upset the players, or we can keep the players happy but unhealthy. So that brings up the question; what now?

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1 Comment

  1. The thought of practicing a little lighter to lessen injuries does sound like a good idea, but i also agree that the players won’t be accustomed to the pain and aren’t going to be practicing to their full extent. Head injuries are something serious but with contact sports such as football, there aren’t many ways to get around it.

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