The Instigator
zman8881
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
diarrhea_of_a_wimpy_kid
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points

Football helmets should not be used.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
diarrhea_of_a_wimpy_kid
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/2/2016 Category: Sports
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 870 times Debate No: 85933
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)

 

zman8881

Pro

Rules:

Round 1. Acceptance ONLY
Round 2. Arguments
Round 3. Rebuttals
Round 4. Closing Statements
diarrhea_of_a_wimpy_kid

Con

I accept. The con to "should not be used" is "should be used" just to avoid double-negative confusion.

The debate is also accepted under the condition that no other significant modification to equipment is considered since no other modifications are proposed.
Debate Round No. 1
zman8881

Pro

First of all, I would like to thank you for accepting this debate.

Let me begin by defining spearing: the use of one player's helmet to punish another. [1]

Helmets were added to football in 1943 to protect the head. [2] However, not only has it failed to prevent concussions and other head injures, it has provided confidence to players to lead with their head, naively thinking that the helmet protects their head. If you look at other examples of the use of the helmet, they usually are to prevent injury when one's head hits the ground. No helmet is designed to prevent injury when two large football players bash their heads into each other at high speeds. In total, about 96% of studied deceased NFL players had chronic traumatic encephalopathy. [3] From now on, I will call this CTE for short. Tyler Sash, a former New York Giants player who died at 27, was found to have CTE after his brain was studied. The death was due to an accidental drug overdose, however, the drugs were being used for football related injuries. Furthermore, his family noticed him acting strangely, going through bouts of confusion, anger, and depression. His mother said he couldn't work at a job as he couldn't focus long enough to complete most tasks. The disease had progressed to around the same level as former NFL player Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2012 when he was just 43. CTE can damage parts of the brain that control impulses and decision-making, as it did to Sash.

The reason for the large occurrence of CTE in NFL players is spearing. And this isn't a recent problem. Legendary Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster suffered from the disease. He tragically died after over a decade of psychological problems. [5]

Imagine if football didn't have helmets, like rugby. [6] Rugby is a sport with little head injuries, simply because bashing heads into each other risk cracking their head open. The fact that rugby players don't use helmets also prevents spearing, which prevents concussions. If the NFL banned the use of helmets, the players would be afraid of spearing, and not partake in it.

The reason that football players are so comfortable with spearing is the thought that the helmets can protect them from head injuries, when in reality, they haven't helped, they have hurt.

[1] http://www.webmd.com...
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.miamiherald.com...
[4] http://www.nytimes.com...
[5] http://www.nytimes.com...
[6] https://en.wikipedia.org...
diarrhea_of_a_wimpy_kid

Con

Thank you for the opportunity to debate this topic. I look forward to a good discussion.


Imagine there’s no helmet

It’s easy if you try.

Imagine all the people...

...smashed in the head by a 250 pound missile, leading with a shoulder pad, traveling close to 20 miles per hour.

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If the image does not load, https://media.giphy.com...


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If the image does not load: https://media.giphy.com...


You seem like you have a pretty good head on your shoulders. I like to think that I have a pretty good head on my shoulders; handsome one, too (although empirical evidence suggests that’s a minority opinion - I digress). In fact, as I look around, everyone I see seems to have a head placed directly above and between a pair of shoulders.

Except maybe this guy, who thought it would be safer to battle without a helmet.

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If the image does not load: https://l2wiki.com...


Which brings me, in a round-about way, to my reasoning for arguing against your proposal.

The helmet is not designed to effectively protect against CTE because the brain moves around inside your head during a concussion. [1] The helmet’s primary purpose is to protect the head against violent external blunt-force trauma. Removing the helmet because it is bad at doing something that is nearly impossible is an inappropriate solution to a very difficult problem.

If you’ve ever played football, say in the CFL for two years, proper tackling technique involves head up with chest and shoulder contact to a strike zone in the opponent’s chest (or center of gravity), wrapping with arms around the ball carrier, and accelerating through the target with force from your legs and hips. [2]

Ideally, that solves the spearing problem. The NFL has a policy in place to penalize spearing as unsportsmanlike conduct and the targeting rule (for intentional head contact) which results in an ejection and fine. The league is not ignoring this problem, rather it is changing the way people play the game by harshly penalizing dangerous hits. Rules specifically prohibit helmet contact with a quarterback, defenseless players like receivers and return men, running backs lowering their head, and of course, spearing. [3]

However, the ball carrier, also has an objective to absorb the tackle impact. The ball carrier accelerates with legs and hips, and (this is the important part) lowers his center of gravity below that of the the tackler. This is instinctive for most athletes.

It would be nice, if the ball carrier remained nice and high, elongated, and exposed. Then the target zone, instead of moving at a very high speed and attempting to evade the tackle, would absorb a nice hit and plant directly into the ground. No heads would be damaged in this experience.

Which brings me back to the images above. Even with attempts at proper tackling technique, two opposing forces drop shoulders and head because the head is attached to the shoulders and chest. The top image shows outstanding shoulder to chest contact, but the heads still collide. The bottom image shows poor tackling technique (but excellent running technique) and the player suffers a concussion, leaving fans with fears of the player injured his neck or spine.

Neither situation demonstrates what you labeled “spearing”. It's normal football.

Both situations demonstrate the vulnerability of the head due to high-speed collisions while players wear body armor, designed specifically for protecting the player against those high-speed collisions.

Players feel invulnerable so players hit harder. Good technique goes for a target zone in close proximity to the head. Heads get hit as a result of the speed of the game, the size of the players, the extensive armor, and the desire to impose one’s will physically on the opponent. None of those will change if you remove the helmet.

The helmet is designed to protect the head (and neck) from external blunt forces that could cause serious injury, paralysis, and death. Removing the helmet without changing the rest of the body armor is extremely dangerous even with proper tackling technique.


If the image does not load: http://media.giphy.com...

Citations:
[1] http://www.webmd.com...
[2] http://usafootball.com...
[3] http://operations.nfl.com...

Debate Round No. 2
zman8881

Pro

The helmet is not designed to effectively protect against CTE because the brain moves around inside your head during a concussion. [1] The helmet"s primary purpose is to protect the head against violent external blunt-force trauma. Removing the helmet because it is bad at doing something that is nearly impossible is an inappropriate solution to a very difficult problem.

Rebuttal:

There is no helmet designed to effectively protect against CTE, and that is why it should be removed. A helmet is successful at preventing blunt-force trauma. However, what you're effectively saying that the head protection is fine doing only 50% of the job it should be. While it isn't originally designed to be, CTE wasn't known to the world at the time football helmets were implemented, and in reality, their purpose must change or they must be removed completely.

If you"ve ever played football, say in the CFL for two years, proper tackling technique involves head up with chest and shoulder contact to a strike zone in the opponent"s chest (or center of gravity), wrapping with arms around the ball carrier, and accelerating through the target with force from your legs and hips. [2]

Ideally, that solves the spearing problem. The NFL has a policy in place to penalize spearing as unsportsmanlike conduct and the targeting rule (for intentional head contact) which results in an ejection and fine. The league is not ignoring this problem, rather it is changing the way people play the game by harshly penalizing dangerous hits. Rules specifically prohibit helmet contact with a quarterback, defenseless players like receivers and return men, running backs lowering their head, and of course, spearing. [3]

However, the ball carrier, also has an objective to absorb the tackle impact. The ball carrier accelerates with legs and hips, and (this is the important part) lowers his center of gravity below that of the the tackler. This is instinctive for most athletes.

It would be nice, if the ball carrier remained nice and high, elongated, and exposed. Then the target zone, instead of moving at a very high speed and attempting to evade the tackle, would absorb a nice hit and plant directly into the ground. No heads would be damaged in this experience.

Which brings me back to the images above. Even with attempts at proper tackling technique, two opposing forces drop shoulders and head because the head is attached to the shoulders and chest. The top image shows outstanding shoulder to chest contact, but the heads still collide. The bottom image shows poor tackling technique (but excellent running technique) and the player suffers a concussion, leaving fans with fears of the player injured his neck or spine.

Neither situation demonstrates what you labeled "spearing". It's normal football.

Both situations demonstrate the vulnerability of the head due to high-speed collisions while players wear body armor, designed specifically for protecting the player against those high-speed collisions.

Players feel invulnerable so players hit harder. Good technique goes for a target zone in close proximity to the head. Heads get hit as a result of the speed of the game, the size of the players, the extensive armor, and the desire to impose one"s will physically on the opponent. None of those will change if you remove the helmet.

The helmet is designed to protect the head (and neck) from external blunt forces that could cause serious injury, paralysis, and death. Removing the helmet without changing the rest of the body armor is extremely dangerous even with proper tackling technique.

Rebuttal:

Just because you managed to provide two examples of attempts to correctly tackle resulting in helmet-to-helmet hits does not mean the tackle attempt is always proper: https://www.youtube.com...

That is a hit on Jeremy Maclin. No attempt is made to properly tackle, it's simply a headbutt.

Furthermore, are you really so naive as to think that a $10,000 fine means anything to a player who makes millions in a calendar year? It doesn't. Players aren't following the rules.

The helmet has also not done a stellar job protecting the neck, as you said its job is. A hard shell doesn't protect the neck from locking up in a head to head collision.

Finally, have you ever heard of risk homeostasis theory? If a player has a body part (the head in this case) protected, it is naturally instinct to lead with that body part, as it is "protected." Of course, in reality, the helmet has been proven not to protect against CTE. It doesn't matter if that's its purpose, it needs to be, as CTE is becoming an epidemic among football players.

Now that I've put my weapons away, thanks for a great discussion so far.
diarrhea_of_a_wimpy_kid

Con

Rebuttal

Imagine if football didn't have helmets, like rugby. [6] Rugby is a sport with little head injuries, simply because bashing heads into each other risk cracking their head open. The fact that rugby players don't use helmets also prevents spearing, which prevents concussions.

I’m going to start with the obvious. Rugby is extremely concerned with concussions. [1]
* “improved conditioning and diets as well as tackling higher up on the body instead of on the legs mean the game is more physical with more high-speed collisions.
* “Concussion was the most common injury at Premiership clubs for a third year, accounting for 12.5 percent of incidents, according to the English rugby’s governing body. English clubs reported 86 during matches and eight in training in 2013-14, a 59 percent increase from the previous year.”
* “Before the 2012 introduction of the temporary substitution for a head injury assessment, Rumbles said, 56 percent of players who were treated and cleared to play were later found to have concussion.”
* “In May, a coroner’s inquest in Dublin found that amateur Kenny Nuzum died from repeated head blows while playing for Landsdowne. Nuzum, whose family donated his brain for research, died at 57 from CTE.
* “Last January, New Zealand’s Shontayne Hape retired at 33 after at least 20 concussions and blackouts in his career.”

In fact, Rugby is not safer than the NFL. Fewer concussions are historically reported in Rugby because Rugby protocols for identifying and treating concussions were sub-standard prior to 2012.

In a study titled “Comparison of Injuries in American Collegiate Football and Club Rugby: A Prospective Cohort Study” published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine concluded: [2]

* Overall injury rates were substantially higher in collegiate rugby compared with football. Similarities between sports were observed in the most common injury types (sprains and concussions), locations (lower extremity and head), and mechanisms (direct player contact). Upper extremity injuries were more common in rugby (Wimpy_kid note: likely due to chest and shoulder pads in American football), and the rate of season-ending injuries was similar between sports.

Rugby is beginning to use the NFL model for protocols and evaluation because it sees the legal precedent set by the NFL. No, my friend. Rugby players do not avoid head-to-head contact. Rugby's a very serious concussion problem, they are only starting to address.

Doug King, a sports injury epidemiologist at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, “…found that rugby players sustained an average 77 hits to the head per game, while American college football players only recorded 9 to 13 in earlier studies. While the gravitational weight, or G-force, of the direct impacts to the head roughly matched that seen in college football, the rotational acceleration when the head snaps back or sideways from body collisions was significantly higher among rugby players” [1, 3]

Empirical evidence refutes your assertion that rugby players avoid head contact. Concussion injuries rates are similar, and would be exacerbated heavily if the rugby players had the additional benefit of American football body armor.

Rebuttal:

There is no helmet designed to effectively protect against CTE, and that is why it should be removed. A helmet is successful at preventing blunt-force trauma. However, what you're effectively saying that the head protection is fine doing only 50% of the job it should be. While it isn't originally designed to be, CTE wasn't known to the world at the time football helmets were implemented, and in reality, their purpose must change or they must be removed completely.

I’m honestly surprised at this logic.

  • A seatbelt doesn’t protect a driver from a side collision, therefore it should be removed.
  • A motorcycle helmet doesn’t protect a rider from a concussion when he hits the ground, therefore it should be removed.
  • A facemask doesn’t protect a player from an eye gouge, therefore it should be removed.
  • Well if it’s not perfect, get rid of it, other risks be damned.

Let’s look at exactly how much force we are dealing with. Sports Science used Ray Lewis to compare a football hit to an FBI battering ram. Ray Lewis generates over 1000 pounds of force against a door, leading with his shoulder. A very large FBI agent uses their standard battering ram and generates 800 pounds of force. Notice also, Lewis shattered the door from its frame.

https://www.youtube.com...;

According to that logic, we should make the players vulnerable to forces exceeding a battering ram to the head because we cannot protect the inside of their brains from CTE.

Bottom line:

Either play with no protection, or protect everything. Rugby has a similar concussion problem to American football. Providing body protection while leaving the head exposed takes the worst of both worlds and combines them.

[1]http://www.bloomberg.com...

[2]http://ajs.sagepub.com...

[3]http://ajs.sagepub.com...

Debate Round No. 3
zman8881

Pro

In fact, Rugby is not safer than the NFL. Fewer concussions are historically reported in Rugby because Rugby protocols for identifying and treating concussions were sub-standard prior to 2012.

Rebuttal:

Yes, but protocol wasn't sub-standard in 2015. Yet, the amount of concussions reported in the 2015 Premiership season, 86, is less than half of the amount reported in the NFL, 199. Meanwhile, there are six more games in a Premiership season than an NFL season. Any sport runs the risk of concussions, however, the NFL amount is abnormally high. Once again, the cause for this is the helmet providing false confidence to a player that when they initiate a head-to-head collision the helmet protects them.

I"m honestly surprised at this logic.

A seatbelt doesn"t protect a driver from a side collision, therefore it should be removed.
A motorcycle helmet doesn"t protect a rider from a concussion when he hits the ground, therefore it should be removed.
A facemask doesn"t protect a player from an eye gouge, therefore it should be removed.
Well if it"s not perfect, get rid of it, other risks be damned.

Rebuttal:

Two of the things you are talking about are part of devices that can go 60mph+. No football player can run that fast. Also, a helmet can protect from blunt force trauma, but that is a decently minor risk. The main issues are concussions and neck problems, where a helmet once again doesn't help, it hurts. If the helmet wasn't in the game, players wouldn't lead with their head at all (risk homeostasis theorem). While a helmet was designed to protect against blunt force trauma, that would hardly be a risk at all if helmets were removed.

Let"s look at exactly how much force we are dealing with. Sports Science used Ray Lewis to compare a football hit to an FBI battering ram. Ray Lewis generates over 1000 pounds of force against a door, leading with his shoulder. A very large FBI agent uses their standard battering ram and generates 800 pounds of force. Notice also, Lewis shattered the door from its frame.

Rebuttal:

The thing is: I doubt players would tackle in that kind of style if their were no helmets. Some NFL players might be the brightest, however, they would be smart enough to:

A. Not lead with their heads
B. Not use that much force in a tackle

"The debate is also accepted under the condition that no other significant modification to equipment is considered since no other modifications are proposed."

You only specified this for equipment, so I would suggest an alternate tackling style that could cope with helmets. If players learn how to tackle properly with a no helmet system, this would no longer be a risk and the game of football could still be an enjoyable one to watch.

In conclusion, the sport of football is becoming too dangerous to ignore. If things continue on this path, the game is going to become a disaster. The helmet poses one of the biggest risks, as it gives the player a false sense of confidence that it protects their head from concussions and neck injuries, when it reality, it does not. A change is needed, and it's needed now.
diarrhea_of_a_wimpy_kid

Con

Pro has proposed a radical change to the protective equipment provided to NFL football players. The rationale for this change is that removing the helmet will reduce the illegal tackling technique called “spearing”, thus reducing the repetitive head trauma that leads to CTE, a debilitating brain injury that causes mental and psychological impairment that can lead to suicide.

Pro has offered Rugby as a case study to demonstrate that a violent, helmet-less sport does not have a concussion problem. Since Rugby players do not have concussions, then the players in the NFL will alter the way they hit.

Pro has suggested that the NFL players will “not lead with their heads” and “not use that much force in a tackle.”

Does the prosecutions case hold wahta, Ms. Vito?

Let’s recap, from the ground up.

1. NFL Players will not change the way they hit nor will they reduce the amount of force in a tackle.

These men are trained from the time they could walk to physically dominate an opponent. That’s the sport’s premise. I’m bigger, I’m stronger, I’m faster, I’m meaner, and I’m imposing my will on you. I demonstrated hits to the head occur on normal plays, not just targeting and spearing.

Pro offered a video showing a vicious shot to the head by Duanta Robinson on Jeremy Maclin. Pro offered evidence that the player disregarded rules, ignored fines, and took deliberate steps to injure an opponent through spearing. Watching the video, the announcers pointed out that Duanta Robinson committed the exact same penalty and hit on a player on a player previously. Some players, like Duante Robinson, completely disregard their own safety to inflict damage when they see the opportunity. There is no thought, moral dilemna, or compassion. It's see hit, execute hit.

James Harrison has been fined over $150,000 for illegal hits. [1] Ndamaokung Suh has been fined 8 times and is considered the “Dirtiest Player in the NFL” by his peers. [2]

Players will see a vulnerability in their opponents’ head and target that vulnerability. Baseball pitchers throw bean balls. Hockey enforcers use high sticks and elbows against the boards. Players, in most contact sports, wear protective helmets because opponents attack their head.

Reliance on an opponent reducing the potentially lethal force in a hit, out of the goodness of their heart and respect for sportsmanship, or their own self preservation, is naive and impractical. It will seem like a good idea, until a player dies from a blow to the head.


2. Rugby does have a severe concussion problem.


The perception that rugby players did not suffer concussions stems from the lax concussion protocol and under-reporting of concussion injuries. I provided study results that show Rugby players have concussion rates, after 2012 when new rules went into place, that equal or exceed American football players. Rugby tackle forms do not differ in any way from American football tackles. Good tackles are executed properly. Bad tackles lead with the head in Rugby as well. It’s the nature of physical contact that players will attempt to gain the greatest leverage and lower their center of gravity, placing the head in a dangerous contact zone.


3. Removing the helmet without changing the equipment is more dangerous for player safety.


In conclusion, I have countered claims to the underlying assumptions in Pro’s argument; that removing helmets will be effective in reducing CTE. Pro offers an idealistic, but impractical solution, to a severe problem facing many contact sports. Concussions are common in mens/womens soccer, hockey, football, and rugby. The common factor is not the use of helmets. The common factor is repetitive contact with the head causing internal damage to the brain. In football, the speed, size, and pure violence of the athletes means that the head requires protection from potentially lethal forces. What good is avoiding a concussion when a player is lying on the field with a fractured skull?

Thank you for the interesting debate. I hope our readers enjoyed the discussion.



[1] http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com...

[2] http://www.thesportster.com...
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by diarrhea_of_a_wimpy_kid 1 year ago
diarrhea_of_a_wimpy_kid
Joe Paterno once recommended to return to the pre-face mask days under a hybrid solution of protection+unconscious resistance to self injury. I had an argument angle in my back pocket to revert back to that system. I thought it would distract from the primary rebuttal.
Posted by U.n 1 year ago
U.n
For those unfamiliar with leather helmets I'm talking about helmets before face masks.
Posted by U.n 1 year ago
U.n
No Hardy Brown references? Technically he was from the leather helmet era but if you want to get an inkling of how the NFL would be in full pads, no helmet, I'd recommend checking out the NFL's Top Ten Most Feared Tacklers video on #5 Hardy Brown.
Posted by diarrhea_of_a_wimpy_kid 1 year ago
diarrhea_of_a_wimpy_kid
Sorry about the broken image links. They looked good in the rtf box, but not in the review. I'm not sure what went wrong.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by U.n 1 year ago
U.n
zman8881diarrhea_of_a_wimpy_kidTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Good quality debate with respect to the NFL's highly publicized concussion problem - which often relates back to the helmets. From a strictly debate standpoint two things leaped out at me the most: 1. Much of Pros 2nd round character space was used quoting Con. There were no quotation marks or italicizations used to indicate it was a quote. Only the word Rebuttal when I reached the end of said quote. Which made things a little confusing and frustrating to follow. On the flip side Con clearly indicated when he was quoting, which made for a more seamless read. Which is why I'm awarding an S&G point to con. 2. I viewed Con's Round 3 use of statistical evidence of concussions and CTE existing in helmet-less rugby as a significant blow to Pros stance, especially considering Pros Round 2 argument cited rugby as a sport with little head injuries. Which is why I am awarding a more convincing argument point to Con.
Vote Placed by SactownBoom 1 year ago
SactownBoom
zman8881diarrhea_of_a_wimpy_kidTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Good arguments by both. Pro's argument comparing the NFL to rugby was shown to have a huge flaw due to the prevalence of concussions in rugby. Con effectively illustrated the inherent differences between football and rugby that further negated Pro's argument. Conduct/spelling was excellent on both sides. I would have to point out to Pro his assertion that players "make millions of dollars" is a myth. Many players make the minimum salaries, well under a million dollars a year, and their actual take home pay is subject to high taxes (~50%) and their agent also gets a cut. $10,000 IS a significant deterrent to many mid to lower level players on any given NFL roster. Con seems like he understands more how the game of football is actually played so my vote is cast in that direction.