Q: Would a shortened or eliminated preseason prevent football injuries?
No doubt about it. Football is one of the most physically-demanding and brutal sports. It’s no surprise that it takes players a week to recover from the last beating—and that’s just the healthy players! Those who get badly injured during the game can take much longer to recover causing them to miss a number of the season’s games. This is especially true if the injury requires surgery to repair. In fact, some players suffer season—or even career—ending injuries on the field.
Foot and ankle surgeons know firsthand that football injuries to the ankles and feet can result from high impact collisions—as well as from attempts to avoid them. Players jumping to catch or intercept a football may land improperly, sometimes due to a hit that knocks their feet off course. Players straining to gain that extra yard or to stay inbounds, sometimes contort their feet to do so. And any pile up, tackle, or fast-footwork fake-out can cause the very common Achilles tendon injury, which often requires a surgical repair.
Recently, there’s been musings in the NFL about possibly eliminating or shortening the preseason due to a spate of players’ injuries, some of which are ending a player’s season—before it even begins. The call to end all preseason games came from the Raven’s coach after a key player suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.
Not only has the proposal to eliminate the preseason gotten no support from the players or the league, but the idea of shortening it hasn’t gone over well either—even with the Steelers who had two starters injured with ankle and elbow injuries this preseason. Arguments in favor of the preseason include that the preseason games are where younger players try to clinch a spot on the roster; that no one wants the first game they play each season to count; and that injuries are just part of the game– they’re going to happen whether the game is labelled preseason or not.
Whether playing football in a youth league, on a high school or college team, or on the professional level, no player is immune to injury. Even excited fans jumping up and down can injure their feet and ankles.
If you’ve suffered a sports injury or other injury, contact board-certified foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon, Christopher E. Hubbard, MD for an appointment in his Manhattan or New Jersey office.