Parenting and Football Part IV: Concussions

I. Chronology of Concussions and the NFL

  • 2009 Boston University holds a press conference on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
  • 2010 TIME’s cover story: “The Most Dangerous Game”.
  • 2011 More than 4,500 NFL former players sued the NFL for hiding concussion dangers.
  • 2012 NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the league was donating $30 million (its largest donation in its 92-year history) to the National Institutes of Health for research on athletes and brain trauma.
  • April, 2015 The NFL settled the 2011 lawsuit for $765 million.
  • October, 2015 PBS aired “League of Denial”, a documentary on the league’s concussion crisis.
  • December, 2015 The film “Concussion”, based on the story of a Nigerian physician, Dr. Bennet Omalu, opens.  It stars Will Smith, but earns only $11 million in its opening weekend and $39 million through January on a budget of $35 million (In stark contrast with the recent Star Wars which had figures of $529 million, $2 billion and $200 million respectively).
  • January, 2016 The NFL admits that the number of concussions in 2015 was “way up” over 2014 and that a record number of players aged 30 and under were retiring.  One recent retiree, Jeff Saturday, of the now-Indianapolis Colts, is quoted as saying that he allows his 9th grade boy to play the game but strictly forbids his 3rd grader from doing so.

II. Other Sports

  • In reviewing research it appears that they fall into three tiers regarding risk of concussions:
  • Tier One (most risk): Boxing and football.
  • Tier Two (intermediate risk): Hockey, rugby and soccer (especially playing goalie and doing “headers”).
  • Tier Three (low risk): Baseball and basketball (ironically the only sport in which this writer received a concussion).

In conclusion, it’s worth noting that, according to the NIH, the age-adjusted leading cause of death in the U.S.  is coronary heart disease and that in a 2012 study  NFL players were found to be 32% LESS likely to suffer from it.  The result of children avoiding all the sports listed above is often obesity, whose consequences remain significantly worse than those of playing sports, including collision sports.






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