Under congressional and public pressure, the NCAA Football Rules Committee announced last week two proposals for making the game safer for players. If the proposals pass, NCAA players will no be allowed to taunt other players and it will be tougher for head-injured players to return to the game, according to a Canadian Pressarticle. Specifically, ‘players who draw flags for taunting gestures on their way to a touchdown would have the penalty assessed from the spot of the foul, taking away the score. Penalties that occur in the end zone would continue to be assessed on the extra-point attempt, two-point conversion try or ensuing kickoff,’ the article noted.
If passed, the changes will be implemented in 2011. Thus far, the NCAA reported that their proposals were supported almost unanimously. There is a growing concern among football players, doctors, and families of players who have sustained multiple traumatic brain injuries– sometimes described almost euphemistically as concussions – that the game of football must change to ensure the safety of players.
Dr. Bennet Omalu of the Brain Injury Research Institute at West Virginia University told NESN.com, ‘There is no such thing as a mild concussion. It’s like saying there is mild cigarette smoking. If you’re smoking a cigarette, it is bad.’ NCAA officials have been chided for their apparent lack of concern for their players. Congress recently shamed all of the various leagues and teams for instituting policies that reflect the NCAA’s bare minimum safety requirements regarding concussions.
The NESN.com article discussed the discrepancy between the NCAAs response to illegal product endorsements – which they prosecute and halt immediately – and their response to the severe dangers of head injuries, which up to the present have been largely ignored and accepted as a necessary evil of the game. Up until this year, the NFL was reticent to admit the severity of the long-term damage multiple head injuries has caused in many retired players. As 2011 approaches, time will tell just how much the NCAA perception and treatment of concussion safety issues will evolve.
Associated Press. (February 11, 2010) ‘NCAA endorses punishments for taunting, toughens concussion treatment standards.’ Retreived on February 12, 2010 from the Canadian PressWeb site: http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5g1_CLGl0_i6…
Lunn, Rob. (February 2, 2010) ‘NCAA Too Slow to Deal With Head Injury Problem.’ Retrieved on February 11, 2010 from the NESN Web site: http://www.nesn.com/2010/02/ncaa-too-slow-to-deal-with-headinjury-proble…