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Would Less Protective Equipment Make Football Safer?

Jun 30, 2017 - Uncategorized by

Unless the rules of play in football changed dramatically, the answer to this question is a resounding NO. Granted, rugby is seen as the fastest growing sport in the U.S., despite its players’ use of no protective equipment while playing a tackling sport.

Our Tuscaloosa accident attorneys warn that while the injuries suffered while playing the two sports are somewhat different due to different rules of play, rugby players still sustain serious injuries. Most important, regardless of the amount of equipment or rules of play, child athletes need to be under the diligent protection of the parties in charge of their teams.

Reasons Why Rugby is Considered Safe Without Protective Equipment

Utah Youth Rugby asserts that rugby does not require safety equipment for the following reasons:

  • The objective is possession rather than yardage. Players are encouraged to pass prior to being tackled, and they learn other techniques to retain the ball. In football, the objective of reducing the opponent’s yardage encourages tackling.
  • Tackling is a different experience. Rugby requires that tacklers wrap their arms around opponents, with no tackling permitted above the shoulders. Football applies fewer tackling rules — and tackled players are hit by hard and heavy equipment.
  • Evasion rather than blocking is the choice. By evading opponents, rugby players rely on better knowledge of the players around them in order to anticipate and avoid contact. In the event of a tackle, they are better prepared than football players who are often hit unexpectedly with brute force.

Of course, rugby is still a contact support, and far from injury-free. The game’s dangers come mostly from spinal cord injuries, although head injuries — common to football —are common, as well.

School Football Rules May be Changing, but Parents Still Need to be Vigilant

Some college football teams are starting to implement rugby-style tackling into their programs, but this is probably more the exception than the rule. At this point, the changes are certainly not universal within high school, college or professional football. While even the National Football League is attempting to address serious safety issues, the real question is whether they are doing enough.

It is hard to avoid hearing news stories about professional players who suffer severe physical and mental trauma later in life after sustaining concussion and other injuries on the field for years. While one might argue that adult players have to make their own decisions regarding the game, this argument certainly does not hold true for young players.

Parents who allow their children to play need to remain vigilant. In addition to ensuring that their children continue to use the highest-quality protective equipment available, they need to carefully look into whether or not schools run sports programs with safety in mind. Of course, in the event that children suffer injuries during practice or play, it costs nothing to talk with an attorney who can help them decide if legal action is appropriate.

Additional Resources

NFL athletes team up with rugby pros to teach safe tackling, Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship

Other Blog topics

Alabama Child Injury and the Risk of School Sports, Birmingham Personal Injury Blog

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