Just one day before Bob Costas is set to be honored by the Concussion Legacy Foundation, news outlets across the country are releasing articles highlighting his concerns for the future of football. USA Today quoted Costas from a panel he participated in at the University of Maryland, “The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains.”
Costas continued saying, “…the sport could collapse over time, barring a development in technology to make it reasonably safe.” The setting for the round-table discussion could not be more appropriate for bringing to light organizations that embrace safety technologies. The University of Maryland’s football team has been protected by Brock PowerBase/PRO artificial turf shock pads since 2012.
Other universities have been embracing technologies to improve players’ safety and reduce the risk of concussions. Dartmouth’s football team, led by coach Buddy Teevens, invented the remote-controlled tackling dummies now marketed by Rogers Athletics. Fun fact, Dartmouth also installed a Brock Shock Pad system for their artificial turf fields.
These innovators saw the writing on the wall as described by Costas and decided to act to ensure the sanctity of the game while also protecting their athletes to the best of their ability. ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser also joined Costas on the Maryland U panel reinforcing the statements by saying, “If they don’t find a way to make it safe, and we don’t see how they will … the game’s not going to be around. It’s not.”
Costas also acknowledged the NFL’s shortcomings by saying, the NFL’s apparent defense mechanism — to seek more information and continue to study the dangers of the sport — will only hurt its own cause. “The more information (that) comes out, the worse it looks,” Costas said. The NFL has even backed injury prevention technologies like shock pads, but after spending over $1 million in research and development their solution has yet to be implemented on any turf installation. The “research/study” approach simply has not provided any tangible results in regards to players’ safety. The NFL’s funds could have alternatively been used to purchase hundreds of tackling dummies or install proven shock pad solutions on several fields.
The commentators statements have rung across the sports industry and, hopefully, they will not be lost to the vacuum as so many others have.The Shirley Povich Symposium was also featured on Bleacher Report, Daily Beast, and Sports Illustrated among others.
There is always room to build evidence and advance research on sports injuries, but the longer solutions are pushed down the line, the more children and athletes of all ages will suffer. At some point the room for deniability will wash away and all that will be left are the moments when solutions could have been enacted and were not.