This football season has seen more reported concussions than any season since Frontline began formally tracking NFL-related concussions in 2012, but many are taking this as good news.
You might not think a spike in concussions in professional football seems like a bad thing, given the ongoing concussion crisis, but this year’s increase is being interpreted as a sign the league is finally starting to take brain injuries seriously.
Throughout the most recent football season, Frontline recorded 197 reported concussion in the NFL, a 60 percent increase from last year’s 123 brain injuries. There are two likely causes for the jump in brain injuries. Players could possibly be enduring even bigger and more violent hits compared to past seasons, but given recent rule changes this is unlikely. Instead, it is most likely that teams are starting to improve at following the league’s concussion protocol and reporting players with head injuries.
The past year has been rough on the NFL’s handling of concussions. The league has been the subject of ongoing criticism for not doing enough to prevent head injuries and protect injured players, and a recent blockbuster starring Will Smith paints the NFL as a villain intentionally putting players in harm’s way to maintain popularity and good PR.
This news suggests things may be starting to finally turn around in the league. Fewer players are saying they would try to outsmart concussion assessments to stay on the field even when they are injured, and overall players seem to be recognizing the serious nature of even the most “mild” concussions.
Frontline has been compiling data on concussions in the NFL for the past four seasons. You can explore their findings in more detail at Frontline’s Concussion Watch site.