by Ken Reed
Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge had suffered four or five concussions, according to his sister. The number might have been greater given that Karageorge had a tendency to not report concussions, based on teammate accounts.
We also now know that Karageorge likely committed suicide. He was found dead in a dumpster with a handgun next to him.
A neuropathologist will look for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease resulting from traumatic brain injury. We can’t know for sure what the pathologist will find and it’s possible the pathologist won’t be able to determine one way or the other if there was an abnormality or defect from a traumatic brain injury.
However, the situation looks eerily similar to the suicides of the NFL’s Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, along with other football players who committed suicide and were later found to have been suffering from CTE.
What can we learn from the Karageorge situation?
Whatever the autopsy results, this is an instructive case study for football programs at all levels.
His teammates said Karageorge had concussions he didn’t report. So, Karageorge let himself down. His teammates also let him down by not reporting the concussions to coaches or team medical personnel.
From all reports, Karageorge was a “tough” guy who didn’t like to report injuries, including concussions. One teammate said Karageorge’s mentality was to never sit out, never back away from a challenge.
That mentality might have ultimately led to his death.
Coaches and players need to fully understand and appreciate the symptoms and warning signs of brain injury. They need to be strongly encouraged to remove themselves from practice if they notice any of those symptoms or warning signs. Likewise, they need to do all they can to get teammates out of the action — in games or practice — who exhibit any of the symptoms or warning signs of brain injury.
We’re not talking about toughing it out through an ankle sprain. We’re talking about the brain, the seat of the human personality itself. And we’re talking about a potential lifetime of mental problems and perhaps premature death.
At this point, all we can do is hope some positive developments come from Kosta Karageorge’s unfortunate demise.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
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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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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