On the sidelines of the 53rd Super Bowl last night, Donald Trump acknowledged he was thrilled to see his 12-year-old son Barron practice "soccer" rather than American football because of the violence and dangers of the sport. . Coming from a fan of the most popular sport in the United States, the tribute challenges.
Peter Landesman's film "Alone against All", released in 2015, revealed one of the biggest medical scandals in the history of sport. The true story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, performed by Will Smith, a Nigerian-born neurologist who, in the 2000s, made the NFL tremble by linking brain trauma to some neurological pathologies experienced by former players . The league traded, after a lawsuit, giving a total of one billion dollars to players who were able to prove their trauma.
Dr. Omalu's revelations are like a bombshell in a country where one in three places US football as his favorite sport. Now considered dangerous by public opinion, American football no longer seduces and especially scares parents. The number of licensees continues to drop in American universities, a real barometer of the popularity of disciplines. Worrisome signs for the most lucrative league on the planet, whose turnover exceeds $ 10 billion and plans to triple by 2030.
At the same time, "European" football is exploding across the Atlantic. Sport for women and children in the 90s, soccer finally settled in American culture after several unsuccessful attempts. Since the 70s, with the arrival of the great Pele at the Cosmos of New York to World 94, the ultimate and vain attempt of evangelization of the United States.
At the instigation of minorities (especially Hispanics), the times seem to have finally changed, the "classic" football seduces him more and more students. The professional championship, the MLS, explodes thanks to the arrival of superstars (David Beckham yesterday, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney or David Villa today). Investors flock to the gigantic market that opens. FIFA's recent awarding of the 2026 World Cup is seen as the last necessary boost in the West's round robin. A conquest unthinkable just a few years ago.
But American football has not said its last word.
While the NFL's aggressive and aggressive lobbying could not stop Dr. Omalu's report from being spread about fifteen years ago, it is now time to save the jewel of US sports.
To protect its players but especially its image, the US football is based on technology. The equipment is constantly improved, the helmets evolve to protect the integrity of the players to the maximum, to maintain the best possible skulls during tackling. Today, helmets printed in 3D are developed to "stick" closer to the morphology of the cranial box of the players.
The league has also made some changes to the rules of the game, including encouraging the use of the advanced helmet, which 74% of players are now using, compared to only 41% in 2017. The NFL has also introduced a rule to prevent the use of the helmet. helmet as the first point of impact with an opponent.
Protocols to prevent injuries are not effective enough? Studies are being conducted to find new methods of control. The NFL is closely following the findings of a project led by the University of Birmingham, England. The teams of Professor Tony Belli have been working for about ten years to develop a test to reveal concussions during sports meetings. Objective: to clearly indicate, in a few seconds, whether a player is suffering from a trauma by analyzing the saliva or urine of the injured person.
The numbers remain very disturbing. A 2017 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) studied the brain tissue of 202 former American football players (professionals, semi-professionals or academics). Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was diagnosed in 177 players, or 87% of them. Of the 111 who switched to NFL, only one showed no degeneration. In other words, almost 100% of players of very high level were affected by this pathology which is characterized by difficulty in managing emotions, aggressive behavior, etc.
If the NFL's 2018 regular season reveals a dramatic drop in the number of incidents, by almost 29%, these numbers are to be put in context. Concussions have decreased, of course, but only after peaking in 2017 with 281 concussions. The census only began in 2012 and 2018 ranks second among the least brutal years, with 214 concussions versus 206 in 2014.
President Donald Trump appears well documented on the dangers of the practice of football US. His son Barron will continue to wear the colors of Washington DC United.
At 12, in the United States, the top game is banned in soccer. To attract even more young people to the round ball rather than the oval.