Virtual Reality: Making Players Better and Keeping them Healthier

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By Sierra Gurley, (Old Dominion University)

VR is changing the way that teams and players prepare for games. Photo via GamesBeat

VR is changing the way that teams and players prepare for games. Photo via GamesBeat

Virtual Reality (VR) is newly chartered space where you can live out real life simulations without the physical experience.

While the thrill of VR still grabs gamers, 12 NFL teams have taken it upon themselves to use it to their advantage.

The use of VR by these NFL franchises allow quarterbacks, linemen and safeties the opportunity to be fully immersed in a game or practice situation without the physical contact of other players.

The players are able to handpick as many plays as they would like without the threat of overexertion or risk of injury. However, will the use of VR actually boost the morale around how society views the sport in light of the recent medical discoveries?

In today's society, football players are the closest form of entertainment that we have to the Roman gladiators. Although they are not fighting to the death, these players are still putting their bodies through tremendous strain and impact on a daily basis.

With the use of VR headsets, the impact that players are enduring could be cut down by a significant amount. The headsets are allowing the players to see, feel and experience all the thrills of being on the field without the contact that football infamously includes.

By conducting practice via VR headset, the players will be able to reduce the stress on their body, risk of injury and most importantly, the risk of concussions.

As such, the contact aspect of the game would be limited to game day.

With contact being limited, skeptical parents might be able to look at the sport through a new lens.

According to Tom Farrey, senior writer for ESPN, because of the recent medical discoveries, a vast amount of parents, “Would keep their kids from football or delay their entry into tackle football until adolescence.”

This parental hesitation has amassed into a significant drop in children participating in tackle football due to the risk of concussions. With a drastic decline in numbers, the NFL could possibly be missing out on the next Randy Moss, Peyton Manning or Jerry Rice.

Albeit, some might think that without the players actually being on the field, they might struggle with transitioning from the VR headset to an actual game day.

However, Stanford quarterback, Kevin Hogan, used VR technology during the latter half of the 2014 season, resulting in him having the best three games in his career.

Other players, such as Andrew Luck, have also welcomed the new technology saying, “It’s fascinating some of the technology teams are using to prepare. The Virtual Reality Systems, like STRIVR, I got a chance to check out this offseason, it was really cool. I think [virtual reality] gives you a different perspective on watching film and it can be helpful in preparation.”  

The physicality of football will never be changed without a complete reconstructing of the game in its entirety, but maybe with new VR technology, the love of the game will be preserved through new avenues.

Sierra is a senior at Old Dominion University, where she is working towards a degree in Sports Management with a minor in Therapeutic Recreation. She is the president of the Sports Management club and serves on various community service boards at Old Dominion.

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