“Would you let your kid play football after knowing what we know about concussions?”
Recently, I was asked this question and the answer is a tough one and one I will have to ponder.
Thankfully, it’s one that I have a few years to think on and discuss with my wife, of whom I married in June.
This will have to be a discussion that we will have in the future when we do have kids and they are old enough to play sports.
We want our kids active and get involved in sports and football is one we will have to discuss at length.
There has been numerous amounts of research that has led to discoveries about concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is extremely beneficial.
Because of this, concussions and how to prevent them have come to the forefront of discussion about safety in sports.
In fact, the National Football League has been put in the spotlight on its treatment of concussions and CTE, which has caused football, as a whole, to put under a microscope.
A 2015 movie simply called “Concussion” was released, telling the tale of Dr. Bennett Omalu and his battle against the NFL, who tried to suppress Omalu’s findings.
It’s a microscope that needs to be looked at because of the delicacy of brain injuries and the damage athletes suffer because of that.
One can type in a Google search about the athletes who suffered from CTE and know the amount of damage it has done to families and sports.
Three of the more recent and prominent examples at the professional level are former star linebacker Junior Seau, tight end Aaron Hernandez and professional wrestler Chris Benoit.
These guys are prominent because of the things CTE has reportedly caused them to do.
In Seau’s case, he committed suicide just two years after he retired at age 43.
Initially, there were no signs of brain damage in Seau but a year after he died, Seau’s family released his autopsy, which showed numerous signs of CTE.
Hernandez formed a strong tandem with Rob Gronkonski for the New England Patriots until he was charged with first-degree murder in 2013.
Four years later, Hernandez committed suicide in prison.
Before the end of the year, doctors said Hernandez had the most severe case of CTE they had medically seen for one Hernandez’s age of 27.
As for Benoit, another harrowing story came for the former professional wrestler when he committed double-murder of his wife and son and suicide on the same day in 2007 at age 40.
After years of performing in professional wrestling, Benoit caused significant damage to his brain.
After his autopsy was released, doctors revealed he had suffered enough brain damage that his brain resembled an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient.
These cases are big because of their actions. This doesn’t resemble every CTE patient, but it does suggest the brain deteriorates after taking numerous hits to the head.
Concussions don’t only happen in football.
Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer stopped playing catcher because he suffered from a major concussion.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., has stated he suffered 20 to 25 concussions throughout his career.
Concussions happen in the NBA, as well.
For now, football is at the focus because of the amount of contact that happens.
Coaches and training staffs are trying their hardest to notice signs of concussions and undergo appropriate protocol.
The tough thing is athletes of any age want to play regardless of what may be ailing them.
The seriousness of this occurrence was put on display on an episode of the Netflix documentary “Last Chance U” when East Mississippi Community College running back Isaiah Wright suffered a concussion.
He underwent protocol and had to sit out practice.
He stated his annoyance with sitting out when he said football is his life after growing up as a troubled child. He said football, along with his brothers were all he had left.
He sat out one game and played a few snaps of the next game before once again showing signs of a concussion.
Viewers were shown Wright going through protocol and he struggled answering questions.
He was forced to sit out and was visibly and verbally angered by not being able to play.
There are attempted preventions in place to combat concussions.
The Optimist football league in Conway has special padding on the outside of helmets to suppress the blow to the head.
At a coaches clinic in 2015, Dartmouth football coach Buddy Teevans said he is coaching the team to tackle differently and not lead with their head.
The NFL is also putting new rules in place to combat them.
The Center Disease Control has also released new guidelines for concussion protocol for minors.
Again, this is something I will have to consider in the future for my kids because there is a definite risk at play.
If you are asking that question to yourself or want to learn more about concussions, physicians are speaking on concussions at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium at Conway Regional Medical Center.