Earlier in 2018, the AFL instituted measures to reduce congestion, debuting some new rules in the AFLW toward that end, as the concern over concussions that affect both short and long-term brain function is at an unprecedented level.
Congestion on the footy ground is considered a prime culprit in head bumps and no one less than Alastair Clarkson expressed the opinion that the ground needs to be opened up more.
Clarkson was commenting on the incident from the Round 5 game of the Toyota 2018 Premiership competition between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Hawthorn Hawks yesterday at Etihad.
Roos best and fairest winner Shaun Higgins was knocked unconscious in the third term of the win over the Hawks, the victim of a bump by Hawthorn defender Ryan Burton.
Clarkson saw no malice or intent to the collision, but that will not make Higgins’ head feel any better.
“Unfortunately for Higgo I think he was out of it before he even hit the deck,” Clarkson said. “Usually for mine — and I can’t be certain of this — that’s a clash of heads. Sometimes if it’s shoulder there’s still a little bit of meat on the shoulder to protect the head. But when it’s two noggins hitting each other, you know, Burto was lucky he wasn’t knocked out as well.
A contact sport played without the benefit of protection of any sort would seem rife with potential for serious injuries of all manner, but the incidence of concussions in the AFL is far under that of the NFL, where players have high-tech protection from head to toe.
There are even those that suggest that abandoning helmets in gridiron might reduce concussions, as players would no longer feel secure to use their heads as high velocity missiles in the course of tackles.
Clarkson went on to say that most footy concussions were the result of the tendency for ball carriers to be over-rewarded, with more stoppages leading to more on-ground scenarios where players were in close proximity to one another.