first_imgFootball is by far the most popular sport in America. Millions of Americans tune in to watch the gridiron sport every Sunday. In fact, all of the top 12 shows of the fall 2015 season were NFL games. As Alec Baldwin said in the movie Concussion, “The NFL owns a day of the week, the same one that the church used to own.”In the movie, Will Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, the founder of the disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Omalu found the disease in the brains of two former NFL stars, Mike Webster and Terry Long and published his report with the help of the University of Pittsburgh. Instead of receiving the credit and attention that he deserved, Omalu was accused by many fans and the NFL of making up the disease to destroy the sport.It took the NFL almost four years to admit there was a link between playing football and suffering concussions after Omalu published his first report in 2005. Public outcry didn’t reach its peak until 2013, when CTE was found in NFL legend Junior Seau’s brain after he committed suicide at the age of 43.The Super Bowl is the NFL’s most cherished moment, a once-a-year extravaganza that shows off the best the sport has to offer. This upcoming Sunday will be the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl. Over 115 million American viewers are expected to tune into the game to watch the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium. Fans are paying a minimum of $850 just to get into the stadium, and companies are spending almost $5 million dollars for a 30-second ad spot. The NFL has truly become the strongest business in America.However, despite all of the success that the NFL has accomplished both on and off the field, the concussion issue continues to hinder the league. We are all part of the problem. As fans we live for the big hit, that certain hit that makes you jump out of your seat and “ooooh man.” Physicality is what makes the NFL what it is. Take away the big hits and it is nothing more than a glorified flag football game.But at some point a line has to be drawn. Last Friday the NFL released its statistics on injuries during the 2015 season. The NFL reported that the number of concussions during the 2015 season rose a staggering 58 percent to 182 reported concussions.To put that number into perspective, as of May 2014 the NBA only reported 89 concussions total since the 2008 season. Even the NHL, one of the biggest contact sports out there, reported only 53 concussions during the 2014 seasons. The NFL has a huge concussion problem that it simply will not address.One of the biggest reasons why the NFL continues to ignore the concussion crisis is the simple fact that people keep coming to games. There’s something about watching 250-pound men crash into each other that sparks the American interest. Even the fact that Roger Goodell has proven to be vastly incapable as a commissioner, botching almost every major decision he has made, can’t keep people away.As a lifelong Raiders fan, I always considered the NFL to be my backup sport to watch because well, the Raiders have been awful my entire life. I often stuck to watching the NBA and NCAA football. I never realized the power that the NFL had until I watched the movie Concussion — which if you have not seen, you should immediately.Since 2009, more than 5,000 former NFL players have sued the organization for failing to protect them while they were playing. The players suffer from debilitating headaches, Alzheimer’s snd other serious brain problems. The NFL reached an agreement in 2015 to pay each retired NFL player up to $5 million dollars “for serious medical conditions associated with repeated head trauma.”One of the issues that plagues CTE is the fact that it can only be found after an individual has passed away. However, in September 2015 PBS released a study that stated Boston University had found CTE in over 96 percent of former NFL players. In total, the researchers have found CTE in the brains of 131 out of 165 people who have played football at some point in their life, whether it was high school, college or professional.As much as these new findings on concussions has inspired me to write about the problem, I will most likely be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday. The NFL has become a staple in the American lifestyle and shows no signs of slowing down. A real solution needs to be put in place before more young men continue to die from the disease.Nick Barbarino is a senior majoring in business administration. His column, “Beyond the Arc,” runs Tuesdays.last_img

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