By Mike Corbett These days, there is no denying that concussions and head injuries are a serious issue in professional sports today. It’s something that is really no laughing matter and deserves to be researched as extensively as possible. I’ll give the NFL and MLB a lot of credit; they are actively trying to develop new protective headgear for their players to limit brain injuries. Unfortunately, while the issue they’re trying to fix isn’t a laughing matter, their solutions definitely are.
Let’s start with the NFL, whose initial solution of just ignoring the concussion problem doesn’t seem quite as effective as it used to be. Millions of dollars in lawsuits later, the NFL decided to get tough on the issue, implementing strict concussion testing for all players, and mandatory time off for those suffering from concussion symptoms. A step in the right direction, but a purely reactionary one; What is the NFL doing to prevent concussions from happening? The answer is in innovative new helmets, as there’s really only so many ways you can regulate a game built upon guys running into each other at full speed. Again, it’s a great step and I’m glad to see they’re trying; problem is these new helmets look ridiculous. Just ask Wes Welker…
Do not be alarmed, that man’s head didn’t shrink, the NFL simply saw fit to give him a comically oversized helmet. This is actually a nice improvement over the old version of these concussion-limiting helmet s, but it doesn’t make the player look less like The Great Gazoo. Many professional athletes are concerned about their image, and they aren’t going to want to be seen wearing something that looks so silly. If everyone is refusing to wear the helmets, then the problem is never going to get fixed. The NFL is probably going to have to go back to the drawing board on this one, but hey, at least they’re finally admitting there’s a problem.
Now, let’s turn our attention to Major League Baseball, which is facing a head injury issue of their own. As it turns out, when baseballs thrown this fast are hit back at pitchers, they can cause serious damage. Once again, the sometimes life threatening injuries that occur in these situations are no laughing matter, and merit far more attention than Major League Baseball had previously given them. Luckily, they’ve begun testing new protective caps for pitchers to wear while on the mound. Just a few days ago, San Diego Padres pitcher Alex Torres was the first to try one out during a game, let’s see how he looked….
Oh come on! He looks like Toad from Super Mario Bros.! Is he throwing a baseball or a blue turtle shell? And how exactly is that ridiculous looking hat supposed to protect anyone from getting hit in the face with a baseball? I guess we can expect hitters to be laughing too hard to make solid contact. Obviously, the MLB is going to face the same problem the NFL has; no one is going to want to be seen wearing that abomination, no matter how safe it makes them.
While it’s great that these leagues are beginning to take concussion prevention seriously, if they don’t take implementation seriously, it’s going to be all for naught. It’s stupid and it’s vain, but if they can’t create preventative gear that looks cool and fashionable when you wear it, this problem is never going to go away. It might be time for the NFL and the MLB to take a page out of the NBA’s book; their protective gear isn’t just look good, sometimes it’s an improvement.