Americans love football.  The Super Bowl is the most watched television event of the year.  Super Bowl Sunday has become a national holiday.  And the NFL draft, which took three days to complete this past weekend, has become popular with football fans who hope their favorite team will draft a player that can help produce a championship.

There’s no doubt that football can be an exciting and entertaining sport to watch.  However, it is also an extremely dangerous game for the players.  We’ve known since the first football game was played that players tend to get beat up playing the game they love.  Broken bones, torn ligaments, shoulder separations, etc., are widely accepted as “just part of the game.”

But only in recent months have we found out how devastating repetitive blows to the head can be.  What old school football players and coaches used to brush off as simply “getting one’s bell rung,” is now considered dangerous brain trauma with short-and-long-term ramifications.  There is growing medical evidence that repetitive head trauma can cause chronic brain injury and an early form of Alzheimer-like dementia.

What’s especially scary is that there are an estimated 4.4 million children playing football in America.  Children’s brains are more susceptible to injury than adult brains.  Concussions are the biggest concern but research has shown that brain injury can occur even without concussions.

According to Katherine Chretien, a physician writing in USA Today last week, “It is estimated that a single child might be exposed to hundreds or even thousands of low-level head hits during a single football season.”

For the full story, read “Why I won’t risk my child’s brain for football.”

Several states have recently passed laws requiring strict procedures for any young football players suspected of having a concussion.  However, there are still more than 40 states that have basically ignored the issue.

“Such indifference borders on negligence.  An average 64,000 high school football players suffered concussions each school year from 2005 through 2008, according to Dawn Comstock of the Center for Injury Research and Policy in Columbus, Ohio.  More than 35% returned to play too soon, under well-accepted medical guidelines, and 16% who lost consciousness were allowed back on the field the same day.  Presumably, somebody noticed that these boys were knocked out cold.  Those in charge ignored the peril.”

For the full USA Today editorial, read “Our view: Who needs concussion laws? 1.2 million young football players.”


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