Danger of sport
While athletes know the danger of their sport, they still participate despite the injuries that come along with that sport. It is the joy, passion, and dedication fans have for their team are what keeps these players motivated week in and week out. With football being the number 1 sport watched in America, it is also one of the top sports that come with concussions. In today’s day, football is much more competitive than it was years ago. Players today are much bigger, faster, stronger, and much better than in earlier years. Fans love to see those hard hits on the field every week, but some do not realize how serious those hits are for those players. Other sports that have a high percentage of concussions are hockey, rugby, lacrosse, soccer, basketball, boxing, and many others.
This sort of injury has been proven to be linked to CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). CTE is a degenerative brain disease caused by a history of repetitive head trauma such as multiple concussions in athletes. According to Boston University CTE Center, is has shown people as young as the age of 17 has been found to have CTE. Unfortunately, CTE can take years for any type of symptoms to appear after multiple head impacts. Although studies show athletes having symptoms of CTE such as memory loss, difficulty thinking, impulsive behavior, depression, substance abuse, and even suicidal thoughts; CTE cannot be proven until death and an autopsy is performed on the brain. “It is an estimated that as many as 3.8 million concussions occur in the USA per year during competitive sports and recreational activities; however, as many as 50% of the concussions may go unreported.” (Brainline) Studies show that children and teens make up 70% of sports concussions. (Brainline) With the high risk of concussions in contact sports doctors, coaches, athletic trainers, and lawmakers are stepping in to protect all levels of athletes to decrease to amount of concussions per year on all levels.
Safety is a huge and by far the most important role in all these sports but why do concussions still happen? You cannot prevent every concussion from happening but wearing the right equipment such as helmets, mouthguards, and other safety gear can reduce the risk of a concussion happening. Another way to try and prevent head injuries is by learning the right technique and developing the skill to avoid dangerous plays can prevent these kinds of injuries to happen. (Nicole M. Marcantuono) As a young kid having fun is more what they are looking for. Younger children are not really aware of how important it is for safety prevention. That is why learning these correct techniques and skills should be taught at a young age so when they get to that college or professional level the risk of a concussion is lower. Yes, it is true athletes get angry and upset while playing on the field or the court but another great thing to learn at a young age is good sportsmanship. Having good sportsmanship can help athletes prevent any anger or frustration and that can help athletes to not go for those hard hits or even helmet to helmet contact. Learning these precautions at a young age can prevent the risk of getting concussions at a young age and can prevent any athlete from developing CTE.
Concussions have been around since the early 1900s. During that time, they were not reviewed as much as they are in today’s age. You see more and more headlines around all mainstream headlines about sports and the concussions that come along with it, not just at the professional level but even the high school and college level. They have been many ex Pro athletes that have donated their brains after they have passed away for research purposes. One of the most popular cases of CTE was on a former Tight End, Aaron Hernandez who did, in fact, commit suicide. “Aaron Hernandez suffered the most severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy ever discovered in a person his age, damage that would have significantly affected his decision-making, judgment and cognition, researchers at Boston University revealed at a medical conference Thursday.” (Kilgore) “Ann McKee, the head of BU's CTE Center called Hernandez's brain "one of the most significant contributions to our work" because of the brain's pristine condition and the rare opportunity to study the disease in a 27-year-old.” (Kilgore) While they did studies on his brain it shows that after a decade of all the head contact he went through shows that CTE is very serious and needs to be taken more seriously. This was one of the biggest cases they have seen knowing he had stage 3 CTE with stage 4 being the highest stage. With this being the most significant case of anyone who was younger than 46 years old, they are starting to question if this is why players are retiring early or also if this has anything to do with parents letting their young sons start tackle football at as young as the age of 6. “In 2017, it was announced Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) was found in 99% of deceased NFL players' brains that were donated to science, according to a study published in the medical journal JAMA.” (Cleveland)
How can we improve the safety of these athletes and lower the risk of concussions? The NFL has made changes to kickoff returns. That means the kicking team will no longer have a running start which can prevent any hard collisions with the receiving team. Also, the NFL is becoming stricter on concussion protocols. The NFL is starting to review targeting calls and if the play shows any kind of targeting that player will be ejected and there will a 15-yard penalty. When any player gets impact to the head they will have to go through a 5-step list to see if they are cleared to return to game. Some players think it is an absolute joke but if they did not go through these steps and they had a concussion to begin with it makes things a lot worse for that player. These rules have seemed to be showing a decrease in concussions in football players.