Scary Moments: Safety First

By Sarah Kirkwood

While spending a sunny fall day in your home stadium enjoying a game of football, you might imagine losing the game in overtime due to a missed extra point as the scariest possible outcome.  Although this situation can bring players to their knees and fans to tears, there is the potential for a far scarier outcome: serious injuries to players.

Injuries range from a cramp that takes a player out for a few plays to a season-ending knee injury.  No matter the degree of injury a player sustains, there is nothing scarier than seeing someone lying motionless or writhing in pain on the field.  All in attendance hold their breath until the player is able to walk or be helped off the field.

One type of football injury has been in the national spotlight recently- head injuries.  Football is tough; it is truly a contact sport.  But too often, a corner back, determined to come up with a huge stop, will make helmet-to-helmet contact with a wide receiver who never saw him coming.

These helmet-to-helmet collisions can result in serious concussions that can have long-term effects on players.  Just last week, former NFL quarterback Brett Farve shared that he doesn’t remember his daughter playing soccer one summer.  I hope that revelations such as this will make players think twice before they engage in head-to-head contact on the field.

The NCAA’s new targeting rule was designed to reduce the frequency of hitting a defenseless player.   Referees now have the discretion to eject a player in addition to assessing the mandated 15-yard penalty. Although its use has yet to be perfected, and fans are upset when a key player is ejected, I can appreciate the value of this rule.

The W may seem like the most important thing- students, alumni and fans nationwide are depending on their team to bring it home.  While it might feel this way, players’ health, both short- and long-term should be of upmost concern.  I hope players will pay attention to the potentially significant side effects of the dangerous head-to-head collisions and play a smarter, safer game of football.


sarah-kirkwoodAbout the Author
Sarah Kirkwood was born and raised in Jacksonville and considers herself to be a true beach girl.  This soon-to-be Gator grad is finishing up her degree in public relations and is excited about the opportunities that await her after graduation.  A life-long love of sports and a first hand knowledge of how teams can positively impact a community has inspired her to seek a career in the sports field.