The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

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Injury Crisis: Why your favorite players keep getting hurt

It is no secret that football is a dangerous and challenging sport. People running full speed, and crashing into one another is bound to cause injuries somewhere along the line. Injuries only appear more common as you climb the ladder of skill from high school to college and the NFL. Everyone that has played organized football would agree that more often than not, they are hurt in some way. First lets establish that there’s a big difference between being “hurt” and being injured. Being hurt simply means an athlete is dealing with some sort of pain that they can play through, an injury however is something that takes them out of playing entirely because they are physically unable to do so. Injuries all have different severities, and historically the worst injuries, wether they be season or even career-ending, are mostly freak accidents. The most common season-ending injuries in the NFL are torn ligaments and tendons like the ACL or Achilles. Most of the time a torn ACL or Achilles tendon happens by doing a “routine cut” or movement that seems normal, but your leg bends in just the right way to tear. These injuries are not casual accidents that happen randomly, so why do they feel so common this NFL season? 

There are a few main reasons that stand out as to what causes major injuries. Firstly, artificial turf fields are notorious for being harsh on the body. JC Tretter, former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman and NFL Players’ Association President weighed his opinion on grass vs. turf fields. “Grass will eventually give, which often releases the cleat before reaching an injurious load. On synthetic surfaces, there is less give, meaning our feet, ankles, and knees absorb the force, which makes injury more likely to follow.” Seventeen of Thirty two different NFL teams use artificial turf fields in their stadiums. That’s half of the NFL putting their players at higher risk for injury. You might be wondering, why would the NFL put their players at a higher risk?  The answer is simple, money. Turf fields are much easier to maintain, therefore teams don’t have to worry about paying for a big grounds crew. The NFL made 18 billion dollars in 2022, there is no reason to penny-pinch regarding player safety. Let’s be real, f it weren’t for the players on the field, the NFL wouldn’t be making billions of dollars in the first place. 

The second reason for major injuries is how players are coached. NFL players are physically larger compared to their counterparts from 30 – 40 years ago. The average offensive lineman is 300 pounds in today’s NFL. Running backs like Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry are nearly impossible to tackle for a smaller safety or cornerback. So what do these coaches do? They teach their players to tackle low and cut at the opponent’s legs. The glaring issue with cutting at someone’s legs is that this can cause either major injuries that end a player’s season, or more minor injuries that never go away and eventually force a player to retire. This is clearly seen with Browns running back Nick Chubb’s knee being bent completely backward after Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick hit it with his helmet while tackling him. This is in no way Fitzpatrick’s fault, but these gruesome injuries are a byproduct of NFL players getting bigger, stronger, and tougher to tackle. 

Finally, every NFL player was great in high school and college, and many of them even played pee-wee football too. This means that most of these guys have played football for 15+ years, and the toll that takes on your body eventually will catch up to you. “Athletes that play the same sport from a young age are more susceptible to overuse injuries,” said Wilmington Friends Athletic Trainer Noah Underwood. Players have the same intense practice and off-season training 6-7 days a week, year-round. Eventually every big hit and hard cut is going to add up and take its toll.

Football is a very physical sport, and as fun as it is to watch big hits at home on your TV, there’s a person that’s being hit like that. Over the past 10 – 15 years the NFL has been changing rules to keep players safer, and while concussions have been decreased, there is something to be said about other types of major injuries. Injuries will always be a part of football, but the NFL needs to step up and do everything it can to minimize their effect on the game, whether that be banning artificial turf fields or cutting blocking and tackling, something needs to change soon.

 

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About the Contributor
Mitchell Brenner, Staff Writer
Mitchell Brenner is a writer for the Whittier Miscellany and is in his third year writing for the newspaper. Mitchell mostly writes about news that comes up in professional sports, especially the NFL and NBA. Mitchell plays football and runs track at Wilmington Friends, which inspires his writing through his investment in sports.

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