Hope for new NFL brain injury rules

August 29, 2013, 5:08 PM GMT+0

Americans think that repetitive head injuries are a major problem and think new NFL efforts show promise, but are split on how the NFL handled the issue in the past.

A week before the start of the 2013 NFL season the ongoing issue of repetitive head injuries in the NFL has re-emerged as a major issue after the NFL reached a major settlement with former players. It has become increasingly clear in recent years that football players - who expose themselves to regular, repetitive brain trauma - develop profound cognitive disabilities later in life at rates which exceed that of the general population. The total value of the settlement is $765 million and will fund compensation as well as research and medical exams.

The latest YouGov research shows that most Americans (57%) view repetitive head injuries in football as a major problem. 23% say that it is a minor problem and only 3% say that it is not a problem at all.

When asked how they view how the NFL has handled repetitive head injuries until now, Americans marginally support the NFL's response, with 34% supporting it and 26% disapproving of it. Significantly, however, 40% of Americans are not sure whether they approve or disapprove of how the NFL has handled the issue.

Despite the hesitancy to endorse past NFL responses to the issue, a majority of Americans (53%) think that the new efforts to increase player safety are 'good'. Only 17% think that they are 'bad', though 30% are not sure.

The NFL has tightened rules governing acceptable penalties for needlessly aggressive tackles - especially ones which can easily result in brain trauma - including suspending players who target the heads of other players.