By Ken Reed
A survey of 3,500 former NFL players, conducted by Harvard researchers, revealed NFL players are six times more likely to suffer from a variety of cognitive problems than members of the general public.
“These guys are such fantastic athletes, but a significant percentage of them are doing serious damage to themselves,” said Andrea L. Roberts, a research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the lead investigator on the study. The study is published in the Aug. 30 American Journal of Sports Medicine.
The position players most likely to experience cognitive issues, including depression and anxiety, were running backs, linebackers and defensive linemen.
According to Michael Alosco, an assistant professor of neurology and an investigator in Boston University’s CTE Center, the Harvard study is important because the study is “probably one of the largest looking at the long-term consequences of playing football, particularly at the professional level.”
The study results add to a growing pile of research studies showing how dangerous playing football is to the human brain, including the risk of getting the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a slow-developing, ugly disease that significantly impacts former NFL players and their families.
But the scariest part is that CTE isn’t just a disease impacting former NFL players. It also strikes former high school and college football players.
While the Boston University CTE Center has discovered CTE in the brains of 110 of 111 former NFL players, the Center has also found CTE in the brains of 48 of 53 former college players. Those college players didn’t go on to play football in the NFL. Moreover, 21% of the 14 brains of former high school football players studied at the Center had evidence of CTE. And those players never played football beyond high school.
Scary indeed. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the human brain wasn’t designed to deal with the head trauma that’s an inherent part of the game of football.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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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.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
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Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
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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