There has been a lot of news, debate and concerns about the level of concussions in the NFL lately. I may be wrong, but I don't seem to read nearly as much about concussions in the CFL. Is it a growing problem (just like the NFL) or is the game played differently in the CFL and it is less of an issue? Is the CFL addressing this issue?
Yes, the CFL is addressing the concussion issue with new rules and protocols. Studies have shown the rate of concussions is lower in the CFL than in the NFL, but it’s a concern in both leagues.
It is said due to the CFL’s 1-yd restraining zone at the line of scrimmage, often the first contact with the opposing linemen is with the arms; while in the NFL the linemen butt heads on most plays, leading to more concussions and head trauma. Mind you a RB butts heads on most plays, LB’s too.
There was an article in ESPN which pointed out some reasons why they’re fewer concussions in the CFL.
Among those most commonly cited:
• Three downs vs. four per offensive series, which translates to less reliance on the physical running game.
• Defensive linemen required to line up one yard from the offensive line vs. head-to-head in the NFL.
• Larger fields, less time between plays and fewer timeouts per half lending the league to smaller, less physically imposing athletes.
“I can tell you it is culturally different in the CFL and the NFL,” says Robert W. Turner, an author and sociology professor at the University of North Carolina who played in the USFL, the CFL and briefly in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s. “Your practice day is a whole lot shorter. You almost do no hitting during the season in practice. And your offseason, you are totally off. You’re not playing any football whatsoever. Is the game equally as aggressive? Absolutely, yes. But your time actually combating compared to the NFL is less.”
Maybe, but then they are facing a massive lawsuit from former players and could face the same from current ones. The concussion issue is one that could threaten the future of the league and threaten the owner’s finances even more, particularly if it is determined they are not doing enough to ensure the safety of their employees. There is room in most NFL stadium sidelines to expand the field width, although not fully to full CFL size, they may change end up changing those dimensions if anything. Making the players run further sideline to sideline will help take out some of the more ferocious hits that put them at higher risk for the effects of chronic head trauma. At any rate, it’ll be interesting to see how things develop of the next few years.