Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We Get Letters

This from R.L., on the recent article in the New Yorker...., by Malcolm Gladwell.

Build a better helmet, reduce the number of concussions? Or do it like rugby and drop the helmet all together?

Excerpt from article: "But if C.T.E. is really about lots of little hits, what can be done about it? Turley says that it’s impossible for an offensive lineman to do his job without “using his head.” The position calls for the player to begin in a crouch and then collide with the opposing lineman when the ball is snapped. Helmet-to-helmet contact is inevitable. Nowinski, who played football for Harvard, says that “proper” tackling technique is supposed to involve a player driving into his opponent with his shoulder. “The problem,” he says, “is that, if you’re a defender and you’re trying to tackle someone and you decide to pick a side, you’re giving the other guy a way to go—and people will start running around you.” Would better helmets help? Perhaps. And there have been better models introduced that absorb more of the shock from a hit. But, Nowinski says, the better helmets have become—and the more invulnerable they have made the player seem—the more athletes have been inclined to play recklessly."

Read on and a UNC researcher Gladwell cites suggests eliminating kickoffs because a disproportionate number of head injuries occur during kickoffs.

Even better is the discussion of "gameness" in fighting dogs... And football players- and the culture of never missing practice.


That does remind me of the "Tullock air bag." Gordon famously suggested that the way to make cars safer was to put a retractable dagger in the steering column. The dagger shoots out and locks in the case of an accident. Same reasoning, with an empirical basis, for Peltzman.
(Bob Lawson found that cartoon, bless him)
Russ Sobel showed it worked for NASCAR; why not for NFL? Get rid of the helmets.

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