The Sports Doctor: Football unsafe at any age
Some of you may know my youngest son had an accident 5 weeks ago that resulted in a blood clot/brain bleed. He is doing GREAT! But I also have a son who plays on his school football team. This article in the Beacon News yesterday on brain injuries really hit home as Liam continues to heal and Josh heads to a football game this afternoon. Such a contradiction…
I’m sure most of you have seen last week’s Sports Illustrated cover story. I’m really sorry and aggravated to see former Bears great and patient Jim McMahon featured as one of the latest examples of the crisis with concussions. I also worked with the late Dave Duerson whose suicide was attributed to tragic results of multiple brain trauma.
What these former players and their families are going through is brutal! Meanwhile, the game goes on — the mighty NFL insists its doing “all it can” for player safety. Unfortunately the fact remains, football is unsafe at any age.
It’s one of the great debates in sports — what can be done about the concussion and head trauma concerns in American football.
We all knew in sports medicine the physical orthopedic toll a collision sport like football involves. The brain injuries, the potential catastrophic consequences of the head hits? That’s different! Now that the reality has hit the sport so hard, parents are facing the decision whether to allow their kids to play at any age. The dementia, the suicides, the debilitated players — it’s scary.
I have to admit that I’ve been a fan and am still a fan — Go Bears! — of football but now we know the reality, as presently structured, there is no way to predict and no way to protect the head from this consistent trauma. It’s a “crap shoot”; we don’t know how many hits, how often, how young causes concern.
Experts used to think that numerous concussions were the culprit; that those “bell ringing hits” were the concern. Now the reality is no one knows how the “routine” collisions” without getting concussions per se will affect these young players.
The average high school player probably sustains hundreds of head-related micro-trauma per season — how much is too much?