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Opinion: How dangerous is football?

Why did Damar Hamlin stay away from one question when asked by Michael Strahan?
Opinion: How dangerous is football?

How Dangerous is football?

In today’s age of awareness about concussions and head injuries, as well as the startling incident with Damar Hamlin, some people are wondering if football is a dangerous sport.  Many parents are concerned about their son’s safety.  This is reflected in declining youth football participation numbers, which is a very real problem for the future of football.  

It is true that football is not the safest sport in the world.  It is a contact sport.  Bodies contacting and flying through the air together at high speeds is inevitable.  Still, it’s important to remember that serious injuries are rare.  Strains, sprains, and bruises account for 75 percent of injuries.  Concussions and fractures account for just 15 percent of the total.

From my perspective, there are sports that are far more dangerous than football.

My other passion – racing (preferably on dirt) – is dangerous.  At every race in America, right before the national anthem, someone prays for the safety of the drivers.  It is the only sport where this occurs every single night.  

They pray because the drivers are assuming a huge risk in getting inside those vehicles.  Even though the drivers are locked in and don’t let the chance of harm get inside their minds, the risk of injury or death is tremendous.  In every discipline of racing there have been fatalities, sometimes every year.  Just three weeks ago a driver died at a Lawrenceburg, Indiana dirt track during qualifying after contact with the wall.  I have seen instances where drivers had to be extracted from their vehicles and airlifted to the hospital, just because there is so much thinly-protected space in the cockpit.  In certain dirt divisions, like sprint cars, the cars are designed to flip in order to reduce energy.

The Indianapolis 500, right in my backyard, is this week.  Seventy-three people have died at IMS. The open-wheel cars they race are incredibly fast, but also dangerous.  Alex Palou, who will start on the pole, drove 234 MPH during his qualifying session last weekend.  If you haven’t been to Indy before and stood in the pits and watched them fly right by you, it’s hard to comprehend how fast that is (and also exhilarating to watch).

So, yes, there are some risks in football.  But compared to other sports those risks are relatively minute.  It isn’t an inherently dangerous sport.


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