Congress on Concussions: A review of recent press and activity on contact sports and brain injuries

Thursday in testimony on Capitol Hill. “That's one of the reasons we love it.”"

“UNL physics professor Timothy Gay explains the physics of football in this file photo. “American football is an inherently violent sport,” he said Thursday in testimony on Capitol Hill. “That’s one of the reasons we love it.”” Article Link 

According to research calculations conducted by a physics professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “professional football players have become so much bigger and faster than the amount of force at work along the line of scrimmage is now twice what it was when the NFL started.[i]” Professor Timothy Gay testified at a congressional hearing in Congress about the current research findings about concussions and in explaining the force of some hits in football. “A helmet-to-helmet collision at top speed is roughly the same as having a 16-pound bowling ball dropped on a player’s helmet from 8 feet up.[ii]” Is football dangerous? Yes, as professor, Gay says, “American football is an inherently violent sport,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons we love it.[iii]

Congress appears to be urging the NFL to continue making changes to its policies with respect to concussions.

VIDEO LINK: ‘This Week’: Congress on Concussions. ABC News’ Jim Avila and ESPN’s Jeremy Schapp on the recent congressional hearing on sports concussions.[iv]

Sports and safety go together more frequently than peanut butter and jelly lately. The increase in research, published findings, and incidents of long-term injuries and damages from concussions are popular topics on the field, in the courtroom and on Capitol Hill. The video linked above mentions some notable facts about sports and traumatic brain injury:

  • 250,000 kids get head injuries
  • 6 million kids play tackle or flag football
  • Players absorb 650 hits to the head every season.
  • Forces each players hitting at full speeds exceeds ¾ a ton.
  • Soccer players are the second most at risk of injury

Contrary to what many critics think, the intention behind many of the concussion lawsuits, research, publications and discussion is not about taking contact sports away, rather the goal is to teach players how to tackle safely and learn to avoid the most dangerous hits.

A change in the culture of contact sports like football is also a factor. Historically there has been what some call a “misplaced macho attitude” encouraging injured players to continue practicing and playing despite their concussion injuries. In the early days of brain injury research, less was known about the long-term effects of concussions. Today, doctors and organizations concerned with sports safety conduct extensive symposiums to share information and promote awareness.

What can or should Congress do? The video linked above suggests Congress should continue to nudge the NFL to make sure research is funded and advances are made in concussion education and prevention. The NFL can send a message that football can be played safely.

Michael V. Favia & Associates represent clients with sports injuries. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a meeting with an attorney at your convenience. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, please visit the firm’s website and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.


[i] Omaha World-Herald: UNL professors take the lead at concussion hearings in Congress. By Joseph Morton, Mar. 14, 2014.

[ii] Omaha World-Herald quote from article cited above.

[iii] Omaha World-Herald quote from article cited above.

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