American football has become one of the most popular sports in the United States. Despite the millions of players at all levels of competition who gain the physical, social, and psychological rewards that football provides, many interested stakeholders continue to ask, "Is football safe?" Although there are only approximately 1,700 players on National Football League (NFL) rosters, the injuries they sustain have garnered the most attention-and criticism-from the national media. Increased public awareness of the injury potential football possesses has led to an open debate and a major shift in public sentiment over the past 5 years. Although no sport is perfectly safe, the question is whether it can be made relatively safe and if the long-term consequences are worth the risk. This article reviews the methods by which one sports league-the NFL-has used advances in medical technology and injury surveillance to improve the health and safety of its players.
Keywords: football; technology; health care; injury surveillance; NFL