The National Football League has launched a new website to spread information about the link between football and concussions – and, no doubt, to help improve its public image.
Helpfully called NFLHealthandSafety.com, the site was announced on Twitter on Tuesday by league media-relations head Greg Aiello. At first glance, the site would seem to be pretty boilerplate stuff, but it’s actually a nice repository of info regarding the progress that has been made, particularly over the last year, in combating brain injuries.
There’s a nice section recapping the Zackery Lystedt Law, passed by Washington state in 2009, which helps protect youth from the lingering effects of concussions. The site has links to NFL Charities Medical Grants that support research on TBIs. (Bonus point for transparency there, NFL.)
There’s also the expected linkage to various NFL efforts, like the Korey Stringer Institute (named after the Minnesota lineman who died from heat stroke during training camp in 2001) and NFL Play 60, which encourages kids to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Also helpful, and somewhat unexpected, is a page that aggregates noteworthy media stories that deal with safety and health issues, like The New York Times‘ piece on helmet testing and the AP follow-up on illegal hits during games. Most interesting is the timeline that runs down the history of rule changes that have affected player safety in ways obvious and not-so.
How could it be better? Make every video posted on the site embeddable. If the point of the site is to spread awareness about concussions and player safety, it behooves the league to relent from its staunch policy of keeping its content off other sites.
See, I’d love for you to just stay right here and watch this enlightening interview with executive VP of football ops Ray Anderson as he talks on NFL Network about the enforcement of player safety rules. But alas, you’ll have to click through if you want to see that. The faster the NFL realizes that the site is not about increasing page views or the appearance of protecting intellectual property, the better the public will be served.
Will it have any discernible impact on the number of concussions? Well, active players certainly have more pressing things to do with their time than read up on the neuroscience of football injuries, so the guess is that kids and retired players will get the most benefit here. For there to be real change on the gridiron, the NFL needs to keep pushing that effort from the inside.