Sports Coaching and Criminal Justice

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Sports Coaching and Criminal Justice

The University of Southern Mississippi

Robert Smith


Dr. Harper

IDS 402


The purpose of this project is to explain how and why I chose my fields of the in the interdisciplinary studies program at the University of Southern Mississippi. This project will also introduce and explain the important topics of my final research paper. The paper will consist of an introduction of myself and why I chose these disciplines, a literature review, and my reference list.

My name is Robert Smith. I am from Franklin County, MS, and I graduated from Franklin County High School in 2009. I am a full time student and athlete here at the University of Southern Mississippi. This has been the best three years of my life since I began college. I have met many new people that I will probably never forget. I enjoy spending time with my family, sleeping and traveling to new places. I am the only child so my parents and I spend a lot of time together. I am an extremely positive person who believes that if you stay positive, good things will come. My parents are a big part of my life, and I would not be where I am today if it were not for them.

The two disciplines that I chose were the Sports coaching and Criminal Justice. I am a junior, and hopefully, I will be graduating within the next three semesters. My academic career has been up and down throughout my three years. This has been because of my own mistakes and miscommunication. Now, I have gotten myself on the right path, and will continue to do the right things in order to reach all of the goals that I have set for myself in the future. I know that I want to pursue a career in coaching because if I do not make it to the NFL that is going to be my first option. This will be a great opportunity for me to stay close to the game of football, and be able to give young people the knowledge that I have received over the years. Football is one of the biggest markets in the south. There are constantly jobs becoming available because of the high demand for success in the sport. In each level, there is opportunity for careers. I would like to coach at the high school or college level. I believe that younger kids look up to people who they can trust and come to about things. I would like to make a difference in someone’s life so that they will not make some of the same mistakes that I have made in my past. All the things that have happened to me are because I put myself in those positions. I would love to be a high school head football coach because I think that through my experience I can be very successful. I have won high school state championships, been selected on numerous all state and all district teams, and have also played in all-star games. I know what it takes to be successful at the high school level and all the things that I would take in order to be successful. Becoming a college coach would be my next option. Since becoming a division one athlete, I have experience everything except a national championship. I have also worked youth kid’s camps teaching them the right techniques and fundamentals of the game of football. It goes a long way and kids always remember who you are and are proud of you.

Coaches that I have had throughout Jr. High and high school have had a major impact on my life. They have influence me to do something positive with my life and have made me want to be the best at what I do. I think that this profession is one of the best at changing people’s life for the better. It can give kids a hope that they may not otherwise had if it was not for the sport of football or the coach that has impacted their lives.

A good coach knows exactly how to motivate, lead, and encourage his players to get the job done on the field. I think that this photo shows how coaches have to be able to talk to their players in a way that the players can relate and understand what they are asking from the players.

When things take a turn for the worst you have to be a motivator and know how to get your players to perform at the highest level. Most people that work in this discipline would relate to this because they know that you have to be able to make things easier and most effective as possible. If a person in this discipline cannot recognize the small things a player is doing wrong, then they cannot correct them. Coaches have to be able to recognize the small mistakes and get them correct.

Sometimes player’s emotions are running so high that he may do something that he does not need to do. A lot of people in my discipline would relate to this because they would have an athlete who cannot control themselves

The other discipline that I chose to study was Criminal Justice. I chose Criminal Justice because this would give me a chance to give back to my community and help people in need. Also, my father has been in law enforcement for almost 12 years now, and it has grown on me over the years. I see all the positive things that he does for the community and how kids look up to him and that draws my attention to this discipline. Although he has a lot of people who dislike him because of the way that he does his job, the good outweighs the bad. He also has changed young kid’s lives around just by talking with them and keeping them on the right path. At one point in their lives, they hated him now they can come to him when things are not going so well, or they are thinking of doing some that would get them in trouble. It is always great to know that your father has a positive influence on people that have always been trouble makers and now they are trying to do the right things with their life. This profession would be exciting and would probably never have a dull moment.

Police officers use road blocks to catch a criminal on the run and to make sure there are licensed drivers on the road. In the criminal justice field cops are trained to handle situations such as arresting people. Criminal justice majors that take the role as cops are familiar and can relate to this picture because they may perform arrests often. The picture caught my eye because it shows a sign of justice being served.

The two disciplines that I chose were Sports Coaching and Criminal Justice. I chose these two disciplines because I am very interested in both fields. In both of these fields I can give back to my community and help people who are less fortunate than I am. Also the reason why I chose Sports Coaching is because it will give me a chance to stay around the game of football. I chose Criminal Justice because my father is a police officer and over the years I have grown to love law enforcement.

Research Question

Concussions have been a highly controversial topic in recent years and have affected high school and college athletes. I am going to research how concussions have impacted the game of football and how they can be reduced. Is there something that can be done to prevent them? Can they be reduced? Would better equipment help?

Literature Review

Violence is plays a major role in the NFL. Players are being trained from as early as little league football to be violent. Violence is a big issue that is plaguing the NFL. That issue is concussions and other head injuries. By players being violent they tend to cause concussions and other types of head injuries to themselves and other players. Although the league has begun to crack down and increase to punishment for illegal head to head contact, there are still many illegal hits that occur.

Concussions are a type of brain injury that occurs when the head takes a blow and the brain rattles or shakes inside the skull. A lot of time a person does not even know that they have a concussion because they do not lose consciences. Depending on the severity of the concussion there can be memory loss, or loss of consciences. In order to for a person to lose consciences the brain must severely shake inside the skull. In some people it may take hours or maybe even weeks for them to recover from a concussion. Over time some people who suffer numerous concussions they can suffer from loss of movement in certain limbs, forgetting simple things, or having trouble speaking. When tested some patients who have passed out due to concussions doctors say that they have the brain activity of a person who is in coma. Inside your skull is a fluid that helps protect your brain when it rattles around after a hard. Normally the fluid acts as protective cushion, but when hit hard enough it can be like its nothing there. (

There are certain ways that you can tell that a person has a concussion. Although there are many symptoms it is often not easy to be able to tell if a player has suffered a concussion. When a player has a concussion they usually have a bad headache, trouble with balance, and trouble with light. Also a person who has a concussion can have trouble remembering things, and sometimes they can remember things that they had once forgotten. Problems sleeping are also another sign of a concussion. Either you can sleep more than usual or not get enough sleep at all.

In the NFL there are more and more players who are receiving very severe concussions. All most every player who has played in the NFL has received a concussion. This has caused serious controversy because of all the after effects of these head injuries. Players are having serious problems after they have experienced numerous concussions. According to ESPN, from 2009 to 2010 concussions had increased by twenty one percent. Recently the NFL has begun to increase the punishment for illegal head to head contact. Players can be receiving penalties during the game, fines, and even be suspended. Some of the hits have been so vicious that players have lost consciousness and been taken to hospitals for further treatment. Players such as Desean Jackson and Todd Heap received hits so hard that they lost consciousness for up to four minutes and had to be taken off or either carted off the field. If a player launches himself head first and they make contact with any part of a person’s head either front or back they will more than likely be suspended now. The poster boy of illegal violent hits in the NFL is James Harrison. He has the most illegal head to head contact fines and suspensions. In all James Harrison has been fined a total of 125,000 dollars due to illegal hits. Even though he has been fined a quarter of a million dollars, he has refused to change the way he plays the game. Numerous players have had to cut their NFL playing careers short, because they feared that if they took any more concussions they might have died or suffered life altering injuries. According to ESPN, “a 2000 survey of more than 1,000 former NFL players found that more than 60 percent had suffered at least one concussion, while 26 percent had suffered three or more during their careers, according to the lawsuit.” Hall of famers like Troy Aikman and Steve Young has both had to leave the game before they wanted to because of concussions. Both knew that if they took one more hit it would be devastating for their long term health. Young received four concussions in three years and could tell that something was not right over the years. Just last year San Diego Chargers players Chris Dielman took a shot so vicious that he did not know where he was on the field. He also could not keep his balance and was stumbling all over the place. He said that he wanted to get out of the league before he took another hit and was not able to take care of his children like he wanted to. According to Caruso, “the retired players of the National Football League are working towards one lawsuit for all concussions. The players are suing the league for negligence and misconduct regarding the way it handled and responded to complaints by players of concussion related symptoms including dizziness, insomnia, mood swings, memory loss and headaches, among other things.” (Caruso, 2012)

As of today players are still extremely violent and some are more violent than others. That’s just the way that the game is played, and it probably will never change because players will always be taught play the game a certain way. Unless coaches can find a way to teach better ways of tackling a ways to make contact with other players then concussions and other head injuries will never stop.


In order to collect data on the effects that concussions have had on the game of football the NFL and NCAA will be researched. I am going to be reviewing studies that have an effect on the way that football is being played. I will be conducting research to see if the number of concussions in the NFL corresponds with the rule changes they have made in order to reduce the amount of concussions. Also, I will be reviewing the rule changes that have been made by the NCAA to help cut down on the number of concussions at the collegiate level. The NCAA has made numerous changes in order to help reduce the number of concussions that has been plaguing college football. For example, there have been grants given to some schools, in order to help do studies and collect data on how many and how bad these concussions are affecting the players.


I will be comparing the number of concussions in the sport of football and the rule changes that have been done over a five year span in order to decrease the number of concussions. I will see if the changes to equipment have impacted the number of concussions.

How have concussions impacted the game of football? First I would like to examine the statistics on concussions.

According to the Center for Disease Control website, the “numbers and rates [ of concussions] are highest in football (55,007; 0.47 per 1000 athlete exposures)” (Loria, 2012, p.2). In the years between 2001 and 2009 alone the CDC reported a significant rise in sports related head injuries – going from 153,375 in 2001 to 248,418 in 2009 (Loria, 2012). The numbers prove that concussions are a serious risk in football. The Sports Concussion Institute (Strickland, 2011) list football as “the most common sport with concussion risk for males;”(p.4) and they state that there is a 75 percent chance that all football players will get at least one concussion in their career. The risk of concussion is great enough that NCAA Injury Surveillance System report from the years 2004-2009 (National Collegiate Athletic Association, 2011) contains a separate section detailing the statistics on concussions in football. The NCAA report (2011) listed that in a study of more than 41,000 injuries occurring in 25 million athletic exposures – which include both games and practices – the percentage of concussions was 7.4 percent of all injuries sustained by athletes. The Injury Surveillance System states that “most concussions occurred to defensive players during run plays (17.8 percent), followed by offensive players during passing plays (16.3 percent)” (National Collegiate Athletic Association, 2011, p.2). These statistics apply to collegiate level football, however it is not just the college football player who has been impacted the risk of concussions. Researchers at Virginia Tech found that “hits by young players can pack as much punch as hits by college players, despite their smaller size and slower speed” (Loria, 2012, p.2). The NFL especially is taking an interest in the risk of concussions among their players. NFL data for the 2010 season reported 154 concussions in both practices and games from preseason through the eight week of regular season (Hit Men, 2011). According to the article “Hit Men” (2011), this data “represented a 21 percent increase over the same period in 2009 and a 34 percent increase over a similar time span in the 2008 season” (p.2). This number of concussions among professional football players is hardly surprising considering that the Sports Concussion Institute (2011) states “a professional football player will receive an estimated 900 to 1500 blows to the head during a season” (Strickland, 2011, p.2). In addition to this, the NFL reports that the average size of players is increasing. The current average weight for NFL players is 248 pounds, that marks a 10 percent weight increase in players from 1985 to 2006 (“Hit Men”, 2011, p.1). This increase in weight has added to the severity of contact and blows during the game. These numbers alone do not tell the whole story about the problem posed by concussions in football.

Concussions do not have to be substantial in order to be dangerous. Since less than 10 percent of sports related concussions result in black outs or loss of consciousness, most athletes do not even know that they have sustained a concussion. According to the Sports Concussion Institute (2011), it estimated 47 percent of athletes do not report experiencing symptoms after receiving a concussion. This is important because research indicates that even apparently minor head injuries can result in long term brain damage (“Hit Men”, 2011, p.2). Because the concussions often go unnoticed, the athletes often return to the field before fully healing running the risk of sustaining another head injury. It is suggested that “for every concussion the person is 1-2 times more likely for a second; 2-4 times likely for a third; and 3-9 times more likely for a fourth” (Strickland, 2011, p.2). These minor concussions are labeled as repetitive brain trauma. Sustaining multiple head injuries, both as minor and major concussions can lead to “mild cognitive impairments (MCI’s), chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and… post-concussion syndrome (PCS)” (Strickland, 2011, p.2). The article “Hit Men” (2011) found that CTE is a very serious condition which can lead to memory loss, behavioral changes including increased aggression, confusion, decreased motor function, and depression. The troubling thing about CTE and other complications from concussions is that they can take months to years before they appear. CTE is the most pressing issue concerning concussions. Depression seems to be the worst side effect of CTE. According to Jarrett (2012), Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson took his own life and an autopsy revealed that he suffered from CTE. Even the recent suicide of Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling can be linked to this disorder. Jarrett (2012) reported that the autopsy revealed that Easterling also suffered from CTE. Besides Duerson, the article “Hit Men” (2011) reported that four other recently deceased NFL players have been found to have suffered from CTE including Lou Creekmur, John Grimsley, Tom McHale, and Chris Henry (Hit Men 2). In 2010 University of Pennsylvania defensive end Owen Thomas committed suicide by hanging himself. The autopsy revealed that he suffered from the early stages of CTE. He was only 21- years old (“Hit Men”, 2011, p.2). The fear of getting CTE is a major worry for many pro football players. As Jarrett (2012) stated, “more than 3,200 former players have sued the league in 124 cases, according to” (p.1). The players contend that the NFL did not adequately inform players about the dangers of concussion (Jarrett, 2012, p.1).


Based on the data presented in the previous section, these are the findings that are most relevant to the current discussion.

  • Concussions are most frequently in contact sports, with football being the leading sport in which concussions occur.

  • Most concussions go untreated because athletes or trainers and coaches do not recognize either the symptoms or the severity of concussive impact.

  • Most concussions are minor enough to not result in blackouts or loss of consciousness – most minor concussions do not even show symptoms.

  • Repeated injury is a critical risk because of the fact that most concussions in athletes are not reported or recognized, and the athlete is allowed to return to the playing field before fully recovering. Recovery can take up to 30 days.

  • Repeated head trauma in the form of concussions can lead to extremely serious long term brain damage such as post concussive syndrome (PCS), confusion, loss of memory, personality changes, depression, dementia, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

  • Most of these symptoms take months and even years to develop.

  • This depression from CTE has been shown to lead to suicide in several football players including one player as young as 21 years old.

  • Because of the health risk from PCS and CTE and the deaths of several pro football players, many players in the NFL have filed lawsuits against the league claiming that the NFL did not properly inform players and coaches of the risk associated with concussions.

  • Because of these lawsuits and the serious health risk, the NFL, NCAA, Pop Warner, and the CDC have collaborated to create a concussion education campaign initiative – which includes posters, websites, and online tutorials all aiming to further inform players and coaches about concussions.

  • In addition to this each level of the game has seen significant rule changes in the recent years.

  • The NFL changed the kickoff rule in 2011, moving kickoffs five yards forward. The NFL concussion rate fell by 12.5% in that year.

  • Pop Warner has implemented rules that have stronger penalties for head on head hits during games, and they have limited full contact to only one-third of practice time and prohibited drills in which players line up more than three yards apart.

  • In 2012 the NCAA implemented the helmet rule in which if a player’s helmet comes off during a play they must sit out for at least one play.

  • Newer and more advanced helmets and other safety gear are being tested at Universities and private sports institutes all over the country.


Because of the nature of the game I do not believe that the risk of concussions will ever be eliminated from football. However, based on this evidence in my research I do think that some changes can be made to make the game safer. I agree with the NFL, NCAA, and CDC that awareness among athletes, coaches, and trainers is definitely a key part to improving this situation. I personally recommend that coaches focus on teaching their teams better tackling and contact techniques so that the risk of concussions is reduced. From a Sports Management standpoint, I feel that greater emphasis should be given to training coaches and other staff how to recognize concussions and enforce the proper rest time after a concussive blow is observed. Not only this, it is responsibility from the management view to integrate stricter health and safety polices such as mandatory baseline concussion test for all athletes on the team. Beyond all of this my greatest recommendation is that in whatever way possible all athletes and related sports staff become aware of the dangers and the symptoms of repeated concussive injury; especially that symptoms can take years to show up.


My research has shown that concussions are a crucial risk factor in the game of football. Given that repeated head trauma has even resulted in death and permanent brain damage among football players and that this damage has occasionally taken as long as twenty years to show symptoms, the increased interest in concussions and their related brain complications is not only appropriate but also necessary in my professional opinion. As a lifetime football player myself, the risk associated with repeated concussions is something that I take extremely seriously. The awareness of the risk and dangers that can occur because of concussions sustained during football games and practices is an important skill that I would like to bring to my future coaching career. I believe that having an awareness of the health risk that athletes face will enable me to be a better coach; one that puts the lifelong health of my players first. For me winning is only important if the athletes can enjoy health and the game for life.

Annotated Bibliography

Broglio, S. P., Schnebel, B., Sosnoff, J. J., Sunghoon, S., Xingdong, F., Xuming, H., & Zimmerman, J. (2010). Biomechanical Properties of Concussions in High School Football. Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise, 42(11), 2064-2071. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181dd9156

This article is about how when football players get concussions their brain rattles around their heads. It also explains the impact level at which these concussions occur. Concussions can have great effects on the long term life of an athlete. Concussions also have a grade ranging from 1-3. The lower the grade the less the trauma, but the higher the grade the more trauma the brain has received. I can use this article to explain the grades and seriousness of concussions and how they should not be ignored.

De Beaumont, L., Mongeon, D., Tremblay, S., Messier, J., Prince, F., Leclerc, S., & ... Théoret, H. (2011). Persistent Motor System Abnormalities in Formerly Concussed Athletes. Journal Of Athletic Training, 46(3), 234-240.

This article explains how over the last fifteen years concussions have drastically affected football. Over this time there has been an estimated 30 to 50 thousand concussions reported each year. Although the symptoms of a concussion last about three days, each time a player has one his motor skills begin to decrease. I can use this article in my paper to support how concussions affect the long term memory of football players.


This article explains all the scientific parts that go along with concussions. When a concussion occurs, your brain moves around in your skull. When this happens, you then receive shock waves that force your brain to have slight memory loss. This can also cause mild or heavy headaches, slight vision loss, and loss of consciences in some cases. Scientists have been coming up with new helmets and mouthpieces to help absorb some of the force. I can use this article to explain the ways that scientists and researchers have been coming up with new ways in order to prevent concussions.

Hit men. (2011, November 14). Current events, 111(8), 4-5.

This article describes how concussions have risen over the last few years in the NFL. Also the article explains how bad the effects of a concussion can be to an athlete if they repeatedly receive concussions. Numerous athletes have been committing suicide because of CTE which in turn causes depression.

Jarrett, B. (2012, August 2). Concussion awareness up. Usa today

In this article it explains how over 3,200 former NFL players have sued the NFL in cases because they claimed that the NFL did not fully tell them about the effects of concussions on the brain. While most of them suffered concussions they were allowed to go back into the games and more than likely suffered another concussion. Also, this article tells how just this year all-pro linebacker Junior Seau was suffering from dementia and killed himself due to this. The article even talks about what CTE is and how it effects the brain.

Kohn, L. T. (2010). Concussion in High School Sports. United States Covernment Accountability Office. Washington D.C.: GAO.

This article explains us the symptoms and signs of concussions of high school players. Also, this article explains how concussions can be prevented. Proper techniques can prevent a lot of these injuries and prevent future injuries. When concussions occur, there are many neurological terms that concussions affect the brain. This article can be used to help support the scientific ways that concussions work.

Loria, K. (2012, June 14). Why bear bryant might not have liked pop warner's new concussion rules. Christian science monitor,

In this article it explains how coaches are trying to make the game of football safer in football. Not only are college and professional athletes receiving concussions, but the smaller kids at the Pop Warner level are as well, despite their small stature. This website also gives statistics from the CDC on the number of sports related head injuries from 2001 to 2009. Even though there were a lot of concussions between those years the number has steadily been decreasing.

Lukowsky, W. (2011). Throwaway Players: The Concussion Crisis from Pee Wee Football to the NFL. Booklist, 108(1), 39.

This article is about how concussions have affected players in the NFL. Also, this article explains how concussions play a role in not only football, but other sports as well. Almost all sports can be violent and lead to concussions. Football, rugby, and hockey are the most violent and will never change because violence is encouraged in each of these sports. I can use this article in my paper to help support that not just football is a violent sport and that all sports can be violent.

National Collegiate Athletic Association. (n.d.). Football injuries: Data from 2004/05-2008/09 seasons. Retrieved from and safety/sports injuries/resources/football injuries

On this website it explained the percentages of injuries of ranks among athletes in college athletics. Concussions have a 7.4 percentage among athletes, although that does not seem like a lot it is an overwhelming number that the NCAA has been working to clear up. Because it is such a high percentage and we now know the severity of concussions there have been numerous rules that the NCAA has put into place in order to try and reduce the number of concussions.

Strickland, T. (2011). Retrieved from

This website provides an overview on concussions especially as they relate to sports. The website contains sections that answer what a concussion is and what happens to the brain during the concussive injury. It also discusses neuropsychological testing and the risk factors for sustaining a sports related concussion and also the long term consequences of repeated concussions. Most helpful is the websites statistics on sports related concussions, entitled “Concussion: By the Numbers”.

Use your head. (2011, November). American fitness magazine, 29(6),

This website helped me in finding ways that people have been trying to better take care of concussions. Since concussions have been becoming so dangerous at all levels of football brain trauma centers have been joining with the University of Michigan’s Neuro Sport concussion Program in order to better study concussions.


Broglio, S. P., Schnebel, B., Sosnoff, J. J., Sunghoon, S., Xingdong, F., Xuming, H., & Zimmerman, J. (2010). Biomechanical Properties of Concussions in High School Football. Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise, 42(11), 2064-2071. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181dd9156

De Beaumont, L., Mongeon, D., Tremblay, S., Messier, J., Prince, F., Leclerc, S., & ... Théoret, H. (2011). Persistent Motor System Abnormalities in Formerly Concussed Athletes. Journal Of Athletic Training, 46(3), 234-240.


Hit men. (2011, November 14). Current events, 111(8), 4-5.
Jarrett, B. (2012, August 2). Concussion awareness up. Usa today
Kohn, L. T. (2010). Concussion in High School Sports. United States Covernment Accountability Office. Washington D.C.: GAO.

Loria, K. (2012, June 14). Why bear bryant might not have liked pop warner's new concussion rules. Christian science monitor,

Lukowsky, W. (2011). Throwaway Players: The Concussion Crisis from Pee Wee Football to the NFL. Booklist, 108(1), 39.

National Collegiate Athletic Association. (n.d.). Football injuries: Data from 2004/05-2008/09 seasons. Retrieved from and safety/sports injuries/resources/football injuries

Strickland, T. (2011). Retrieved from

Use your head. (2011, November). American fitness magazine, 29(6),

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