Technology and data-driven evaluations to improve player safety.
In the last twenty years, there has been greater awareness regarding concussions suffered by American football players and their role as the cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), culminating in 2015 with the movie Concussion, starting Will Smith as Dr. Omalu, a forensic doctor who pioneered the research into CTE.
The consequences of these concussions and CTE are great, with such head trauma linked to permanent brain damage, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. As this awareness has grown, there have numerous efforts to identify and reduce the risk of concussions. Various companies have partnered with the pro football leagues in developing special sensors to track the ferocity of the hits endured by the players while other companies looked to improve the technology behind the helmets and pads to reduce the concussion risk. The NFL itself has modified rules, adjusted training schedules, adjusted player tackling techniques, and has sought the use of better helmets.
The Guardian Caps, a collaboration between the NFL, the NFL Players Association, and Guardian Sports, is potentially a promising next step in this evolution of player safety, promising to reduce the impact of collisions by at least 10% when one player is wearing the cap and at least 20% when both players are. Many grade school, high school and some college football teams use the Guardian Caps already, and the NFL is participating in an on-the-field experiment with the 2022 Pre-Season, collecting data to see how effective these Guardian Caps really are.
While football is a contact sports where violent collisions sometimes cannot be avoided, we encourage using every available technology and data-driven evaluations to consistently improve player safety, to reduce the risk as much as is reasonably possible.
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About Michael Pang
Born and raised in Orange County, California, Michael Pang attended the University of California at Berkeley, earning a Bachelor of the Arts in History. Upon graduating from Cal, Michael attended the King Hall School of Law at the University of California at Davis, graduating with a Juris Doctorate and also completing the Public Service Law Program.
While in law school, Michael first clerked for the Santa Clara District’s Attorney’s office before joining Adelson, Testan, Brundo, Novell & Jimenez, beginning a 15 year career which started as a law clerk, before returning to Orange County as an associate attorney, then as the youngest partner of the firm, and finally, as the managing partner of the nationwide Sports Law Practice Group.
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