Football players should have better helmets
On Sept. 28, 2008, New York Jets safety Eric Smith tackled Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin, leading with his helmet, knocking Boldin out of the game. He was not penalized for the hit during the game, but in the following days he was fined $50,000 and suspended for one game, despite his protests that there was no malicious intent behind the hits.
In October of 2010, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison received a fine of $75,000 for a similar reason. Harrison responded to the fines by saying, "I can't play by those rules. You're handicapping me."
Neither Smith nor Harrison was penalized during the game for their hits. However, due to an increasing number of concussions in the NFL, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has started increasing fines for these helmet-to-helmet hits, especially those that result in a concussion or players leaving the game.
Meanwhile, according to the New York Post, hits exactly like Smith's in which no players are injured make the highlight reel on the NFL Network, a television station owned and operated by the NFL, and even have their own segment named "Hit Parade."
However, concussions due to such hits are on the rise. In 2010, the number of concussions was double what it had been in 2007, with almost 6 percent of players, reaching numbers around 100, receiving a concussion over the course of the year.
Players on both offense and defense are becoming faster and stronger, which results in more injuries as collisions between players become more violent.
According to ESPN, stopping helmet-to-helmet hits will not mean that injuries to players will be reduced. Instead, serious injuries will just become more common in other parts of the body, such as the knees, as players adjust their tackling style to hit areas lower on the body.
In light of these facts, the solution is not a rule change that hampers players without decreasing the number of injuries but rather an upgrade in equipment.
Football is the most profitable sport in the country, earning roughly $6 billion a year. That is more than enough money to purchase better helmets or develop new ones adapted from racing helmets.
According to Real Analytics, carbon fiber and Kevlar helmets used in motorcycle racing can be adapted as workable football helmets and should be used, allowing for more hits. In this issue, it is possible to satisfy both parties.