Concussions, Football and You

Concussions, Football and You May 5, 2012

Are the new studies about concussions, the new reports (Sonjay Gupta, for instance), and the recent revelations of football players who seemingly committed suicide as a result of football injuries (Dave Duerson, Junior Seau) … are these making you rethink or even have a conclusion about permitting your son/s play football?

Jonathan Anker:

When I heard about Junior Seau’s stunningly tragic suicide at just 43 years old the other day, I couldn’t help but immediately wonder what toll the game Seau loved and dominated may have played in his death. To be clear, there is absolutely no proof or even indication right now that the cumulative effect of all Seau’s gridiron collisions contributed to any kind of depressive thoughts or degenerative mental condition. We don’t know why he killed himself. We may never know.

But we do know it’s happened in other instances. After former Chicago Bears standout Dave Duerson committed suicide last year, an analysis of his brain revealed he suffered from a trauma-induced disease found in at least 20 other football players who have passed away, according to the Sports Legacy Institute.

Former Philadelphia Eagle Andre Waters was 44 when he killed himself in 2006. Studies found his brain, according to Sports Illustrated, “resembled what one would expect in an 85-year-old man in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.”

Knowing this, and knowing how prevalent and often undiagnosed concussions are at even the lower levels of football (to say nothing of all the other serious injuries accepted as ‘just a part of the game’ in football), why would any parent choose to enlist their child to join these ranks? To volunteer them to have their head smacked around inside a plastic cage? Children have been playing tackle football for generations, yes, but only recently have we become aware of what it’s doing to them.

“You know, there are other sports out there.”

Committing suicide is of course an extreme and relatively rare outcome for football-related trauma, but how many other serious issues pop-up among football players — of any age — for having taken all these shots to the head? How many cases of depression? How many instances of memory loss or other declining cognitive functions? Or even debilitating migraines?

 


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