I am an avid football fan and have been since I was six years old. I grew up down the street from Gene Upshaw, Hall of Fame offensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders, and Head of the Player's Union for years. I love football.
That said, my 12-year-old son and I have an ongoing debate over whether or not he can play PeeWee Football (in the San Ramon Valley it's called Thunderbirds). As a psychologist, I have told him repeatedly that the damage done to his body, in particular his brain, is not worth any success that may be had playing football. I have followed the research findings over the past 5 years with regards to brain trauma and football and here is what I have found.
Consistency of the Brain - Soft Brain, Hard Skull
The brain is the consistency of a wet sponge or a soft boiled egg. The human skull is hard to keep your brain safe from injury. However, the inside of the skull has pointed ridges which can damage the brain when the head and body are stopped suddenly, such as that which happens on many plays in football. Even those hits which do not result in a concussion still bruise the brain to an extent.
Damage Occurs On A Spectrum
Damage to the brain is not as simple as one has a concussion or one does not. It is not black and white. Damage to the brain occurs on a continuum. One way to think of it more accurately is to imagine a 1 to 10 scale with 1 being uninjured and 10 being a severe concussion. Obviously, this is overly simplistic, but a step above thinking of concussions as binary (i.e., I have a concussion or I do not).
Even lesser hits in football can result in minor bruises to the brain, bruises which may not be considered even mild concussions. But there is still a cumulative negative effect on the brain. And we're beginning to see the results thanks to former NFL and college players who have donated their brains after death.
Football and Brain Trauma
Researchers have known for roughly 20 years that ex-NFL players suffer from the degenerative brain disease known as CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. CTE is the only fully preventable cause of dementia of which we know.
Brain Damage Evident From Football In Players As Young as 18 Years
A new study has revealed that the brain of a deceased 18-year-old former college football player showed early signs of CTE. This is the youngest age that signs of CTE have been found, to my knowledge. คาสิโนฟรีเครดิต
The same study also report that Mike Borich, a former college football player who passed away at the age of 42, showed advanced signs of CTE. This is the first time that advanced signs of CTE have been identified in a former college player who never played in the NFL. It is also the first time that CTE signs have been found in one who played the position of wide receiver. This means that the damage done to the brain in high school and college football is taking a toll on the brain that adversely affects quality of life later on. Adverse effects of CTE may include symptoms such as change in personality, self-destructive behaviors, addictive behaviors, memory loss and more.
Risk To Health Not Widely Shared With Young Players
According to Dr. Robert Cantu, a leading sports concussion expert and clinical professor of neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine, ' It is our hope that this evidence helps draw the focus of the CTE discussion to amateur athletes, where it belongs. Young men and women are voluntarily exposing themselves to repetitive brain trauma without full knowledge of the potential consequences, and the rules of the games are designed without an appreciation for the risks carried by the players.'