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Is Playing Football Worth The Danger?


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#1 Steve Heard

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Posted 18 March 2015 - 01:18 PM

After years of hitting or getting hit, lots of NFL players have retired over brain injury concerns (Steve Young and Troy Aikman come to mind), but Chris Borland of the 49ers retired over the same concerns, but after playing professionally for just one season.

 

A few  years ago 79 deceased football players brains were examined, and 76 of them showed signs of degenerative brain disease.

 

One former player committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest, leaving a note requesting that his brain be examined.

 

More and more NFL players have been arrested in recent years for off-field violence.

 

I remember John Madden saying a few years ago that today's safety equipment has made football more dangerous because the defensive players are bigger, stronger and faster than ever, and the armor they wear prevents them from feeling the impact of their own hits.

 

Stories like these are causing parents to keep their kids from playing football.

 

What do you think? Did your kids play? Will you let them in the future?

 

I had daughters, and didn't have to deal with it, but if I had a son, I think I'd steer him toward safer sports.


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#2 Deb aka Resume Lady

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Posted 18 March 2015 - 02:37 PM

Brain injuries was always a concerns of ours. Our son wasn't big enough to play football, not that he was interested -- but we wouldn't have let him play had he wanted to. The son of friends of ours recently had a severe concussion playing football. It's scary. We don't even watch professional football any more, but don't think our little boycott is having any impact on the sport.


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#3 sunnyCA

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Posted 18 March 2015 - 02:40 PM

I say no, it is not worth the risk, especially for young children.  I have 2 boys, both of whom played flag football and one of whom has expressed some interest in tackle football at times, but he has seen news stories that you are referencing and has since said that he does not want to play.  The risks are becoming more and more clear.

 

I know a college student who was medically redshirted for multiple concussions in his senior year playing college football.  From an inner city background, he started playing when he was 8 and was told by coaches since he was a young boy that he was "so good" that he "would definitely be playing in the NFL."  He never wanted to be seen as "weak" and so even if he had a minor head injury, he never told anyone. He just went back in the game and told me he "took a lot of advil" after.

 

Following the years of head trauma, he told me that he had effectively lost his short-term memory.   Not only was he not going to the NFL, he was nervous for his interview for a bank teller position because he was worried that a customer would tell him a deposit or withdrawal amount and that he would forget it as soon as he heard it.  He told me that his best hope would be to write the amount down as it was being said so that he could "get that really good job at the bank."  

 

At 22, that was all that he could see for his future.  He told me that his one piece of advice for me would be to not let my young boys play football. When I asked him what he would do if he had his own boys, he said that he would never let them play.  I asked about starting them in high school and he paused for a minute and said, "No, not ever.  It's not worth it. Look at me."

 

It was a heartbreaking and honest conversation and I left it feeling utterly sad for this young man who was led to believe that his worth was going to be found in a sport that ended up costing him so much.  I bet that his story is all-too common and while it will never get the press of some NFL players' stories, it has stuck with me to this day.  I often wonder what has become of him.



#4 MikeinFolsom

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Posted 18 March 2015 - 02:43 PM

Well, it isn't quite as prevalent in baseball, but kids do get hit in the head from time to time and some have been killed. In soccer there are instances of kids running into each other and there are zero pads in that game. Hockey is quite violent too. The bad wrap on football is body collisions happen on every play. There are 'safer' ways to play the game. I feel that if the sensors they can put in helmets are correctly used the instances of head injuries would drop. The problem is, owners are shelling out millions of dollars for some players and the last thing they'll want is their star player on the sideline because his helmet sensors registered too hard of an impact. I'm not sure what the answer is.

#5 sunnyCA

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Posted 18 March 2015 - 02:58 PM

Well, it isn't quite as prevalent in baseball, but kids do get hit in the head from time to time and some have been killed. In soccer there are instances of kids running into each other and there are zero pads in that game. Hockey is quite violent too. The bad wrap on football is body collisions happen on every play. There are 'safer' ways to play the game. I feel that if the sensors they can put in helmets are correctly used the instances of head injuries would drop. The problem is, owners are shelling out millions of dollars for some players and the last thing they'll want is their star player on the sideline because his helmet sensors registered too hard of an impact. I'm not sure what the answer is.

I think that you are right--that is the problem with football. Of course, injury is possible in any sport, but football is different in that the sport is centered on body collisions.  Honestly, if I bang my head into a wall on a regular basis, at some point I am going to do some damage to my brain. Regular hits to the head (helmeted or not), are going to cause problems.



#6 nomad

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Posted 18 March 2015 - 03:11 PM

Well, it isn't quite as prevalent in baseball, but kids do get hit in the head from time to time and some have been killed. In soccer there are instances of kids running into each other and there are zero pads in that game. Hockey is quite violent too. The bad wrap on football is body collisions happen on every play. There are 'safer' ways to play the game. I feel that if the sensors they can put in helmets are correctly used the instances of head injuries would drop. The problem is, owners are shelling out millions of dollars for some players and the last thing they'll want is their star player on the sideline because his helmet sensors registered too hard of an impact. I'm not sure what the answer is.

 

If you look at Rugby you'll see the answer. Yes there are concussions but no where near the amount you see in the NFL. The reason is the rules of the game. There is no blocking and you cannot tackle above or hit above the shoulders. Looking at the size of those guys and with no padding it's pretty amazing to watch and just as entertaining as the NFL but it's too weird of a game for most people in the US to grasp.

 

My younger son had a concussion at a young age from a fall. There are so many unknowns about how "well" people heal and if there are effects YEARS later. We were told to watch for emotional changes and occasionally we see them but we haven't panicked yet. Football will never be in his future but he does play a lot of soccer. 

 

And I've seen these clip board throwing Coach/Dad's @ Vista and Folsom and you can't believe what these guys are drilling into these kid's heads. College scholarship, NFL, blah blah blah. And having an elite team like the Bulldogs in town doesn't help sway the desire not to play football one bit. I saw a kid get whacked last season. Dad wanted to put him back in, Mom ran down there and tossed his helmet away.

 

Who knows, if this keeps up the NFL may fold just from the lack of kids that want to play vs. the known risks at a later age.



#7 cw68

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Posted 18 March 2015 - 08:49 PM

Badgers are smart peeps. ;)

Head trauma is what made me keep my kids out of tackle football. Steve, I remember being at the old My Cousin Vinny's with my kids and running into you and the Jr Bulldogs coach who showed interest in my son. He seemed mystified that my plan was to keep my kids in flag football as long as possible.

With a bro-in-law who is a 20+ year beat writer for a daily covering an NFL team and other close friends who are/were football coaches, I took their warnings of injuries to heart.

I love football so much but each year I am less and less comfortable with the sport.

I really think that removing most of the padding would ultimately help. Rugby is self-limiting - you hit, you hurt and you don't hit that hard again. When one feels the pain, they try to avoid the pain. Additionally, if you watch old football plays, it was less about full-on smacking and more about taking the player down with less impact.

Something's gotta give or the NFL is going to die. I'm a 40-year fan who doesn't know how much longer I can support the sport - and I live and breathe pigskin during the season.




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