ESPN poll: 33 percent of college football players have lied about concussions

Doug Pensinger

Football has a head injury problem. Part of it stems from the fact that players aren't always honest about their conditions.

ESPN recently conducted an anonymous poll of 92 college football players and asked about a bunch of topics, including head injuries. A third of the players polled said that they have lied about concussions during their college careers.

"I've lied about concussions," an SEC player said. "It's pretty easy to get away with it -- you just stay away from the team doctors."

The topic of concussions in football has increasingly come to the fore as research into the long-term effects of head trauma has become more prevalent. It's an important discussion, and one that cuts to the fundamental core of the sport. It has also brought about consequences.

The NCAA is currently facing a lawsuit over its treatment of head injuries, and an internal NCAA survey which indicates that many college trainers let players showing signs of concussion return to games is prominent in the plaintiffs' case. The NFL is also in a legal battle on this subject and it, along with the NCAA, has in recent years made moves in an effort to improve player safety and decrease the frequency of major head injuries.

The NCAA, for example, made a significant alteration to its targeting rule, which takes effect in 2013. Now a player who targets a defenseless opponent above the shoulders is subject to ejection. That comes in addition to the usual 15-yard personal foul penalty assessed on any such hit.

But this is a complex issue with no easy solution, and there is only so much that can be done on the administrative end, as the SEC player's admission above underscores.

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