The NFL has announced plans to kick off a new initiative aimed at improving the health and safety of football players at all levels. They’re calling it “Play Smart. Play Safe.” and it’s fueled by a $100 million dollar investment that the league will make to support independent medical research and engineering advancements.
$60 million dollars will be allocated toward the research and development of Advanced Technologies that will help protect players from injury, such as improved helmets and under-layers for artificial turf fields that absorb impacts. The other $40 million dollars will be put toward Medical Research, Education for players and coaches at all levels, and communication regarding the data and discoveries made as a part of the initiative.
The league is hoping to move the chains on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of head injuries; the development of enhanced medical protocols; and to improve the way the game is taught and played through the initiative.
The NFL is America’s largest and most profitable professional sports league. Boasting “nearly 200 million fans,” and revenue of $13 billion in 2015. However, that success hasn’t come without a fair share of criticism or controversy.
In recent years, the NFL has found itself at the center of numerous lawsuits and PR scrums related to the long-term mental and physical health issues faced by current and former players as the public conversation has expanded beyond the big games and best players as media and players from different eras have begun to highlight the impact that the game has after players step off the field.
Health and safety concerns have also been tied to the declining participation levels in youth football, so some could assume that the initiative is a reactive gambit as opposed to a proactive solution.