Patrick Hruby has written an outstanding article on the subject of brain trauma and the implications for the future of football for Yahoo! Sports’ new online magazine ThePostGame. It’s eye-opening, scary, and impactful.
It’s hard to read this piece and not come away thinking that football’s days are numbered — at least as a mainstream youth activity and sport sanctioned by public schools. Football is simply too dangerous. Rule changes and equipment advances won’t ultimately be able to save the sport for our young people. The sport of football, by its nature, causes numerous jolts to the skull, meaning the brain is regularly tossed around inside that skull like jello.
We’ve known for several years now that concussions aren’t good for short-or-long-term health. We’ve heard that Second Impact Syndrome (SIS), a second blow to the brain quickly following a concussion, can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. In recent years, we’ve heard about how a history of concussions is associated with a brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE symptoms include depression, erratic behavior, memory lapses, and eventually dementia. But the scariest findings coming out of recent brain trauma research is that repetitive subconcussive hits can have major negative consequences for the brain — especially the young developing brain. A football player (or hockey or soccer player, or anyone who is the victim of repetitive brain trauma can develop CTE even without having suffered a concussion. Wow.
“Evidence suggests that CTE — the silent killer, the disease that turns players’ brains into ticking time bombs, slowly driving them mad — is caused not only by concussions but also by sub-concussive trauma,” writes Hruby. “Little hits. Little hits like the 1,000 – 1,500 blows to the head that the average high school football lineman absorbs in a single season, according to estimates by Boston researchers.”
Can football be saved for our young people? Undoubtedly, every attempt will be made to find a way to make football safer. Limiting the number of hits to the head that players receive in practice is probably the first place to start. But ultimately, the question is, how “brain safe” can tackle football ever be?
“Protect our national pastime,” writes Hruby. “Protect our children’s brains. The hope is that we can do both. Biology and physics suggest otherwise. Safer does not mean safe.”
We’re at the beginning of the end for youth and high school football.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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