Breaking Up with Football

In less than a month millions of people around the world will be tuning in to watch the  Superbowl.  Last year 111.3 million people tuned in to see the Giants beat the Patriots.  And while some people will be tuning in to see the commercials or Beyonce at half time

many people are just die-hard fans that truly love the sport.

My husband loves the sport and has been a faithful Broncos fan since he was a small child. So you can imagine that he wasn’t very thrilled when I shared an article with him from Reader’s Digest “Breaking Up With Football”.

You see, when watching a football game, there are two types of plays that always elicit excited, nacho-spilling outbursts. The first is an incredible, physics-defying catch that no one saw coming and the second is a bone-crushing hit that knocks a guy out of his cleats.  It’s that bone crushing, head-on collision that made the sportswriter decide he was done with football.  It made me wonder if others should be done too.

I’m not trying to talk anybody out of watching their favorite sport any more than I want to be talked out of watching my soap opera or favorite reality show, but I think everyone should know a few facts, especially if they have children playing youth football.  As I researched this subject more on the internet I found out it’s a huge topic of debate, with very strong opinions and it can get pretty nasty.  Wow!  Almost like the whole presidential election we just went through.

So if you’re interested, here are a few facts that really blew my mind and below is the actual article I read in Reader’s Digest.

1.  Football hits pull the brain like Silly Putty, stretching and shearing nerve cells. – While one doctor proves that football-related head trauma causes chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a mind-ravaging disease associated with repetitive head trauma, others disprove it – much like how the Tobacco Industry tried to keep us believing cigarettes were safe for many years.  Fact:  The Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy has released test results for the brains of 20 deceased football players. Nineteen showed evidence of CTE.

These are the words (the scientist) uses to describe the clinical symptoms of CTE: Impulsivity. Disinhibition. Volatility. Problems with depression and emotional control. And this is how Mike Webster, later diagnosed with the disease, spent his final months: living in his truck, squeezing Super Glue on his rotting teeth, shooting himself with a Taser gun to sleep, and sniffing ammonia to stay awake.

2.  Currently, more than 3,500 former players and surviving family members are suing the NFL, essentially attempting to hold the league liable. – And the argument most often is, “Those money-grubbing, ambulance-chasing ex-players knew what they were getting into. Now they’re complaining? Tough luck. Why can’t they just leave football alone?”  But my question is, did they really know what they were getting in to?

3.  Boys and young men—whose brains are still developing—are more vulnerable to football-induced head trauma.  According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, only 42 percent of high schools in 2010 even had access to a certified athletic trainer educated in concussion care.  Robert Cantu, MD, a leading sports concussion expert, says in a new book that children under 14 years of age shouldn’t play collision sports under current rules, an argument he suspects will “tick some people off.”

And another popular argument is this, “You can suffer a concussion driving a car. Or riding a bike. Life is risky. Football is risky. Sure, we should minimize the risk. But doing so is enough to keep on enjoying the sport, right?”

I guess my questions is, “Is it enough?”  All I know for sure is I’m glad my son isn’t playing football.  And for those of you who love the sport, I guess that’s your choice.

Reader’s Digest Article:  Football Safey:  Why I Broke Up with the Sport

Football Safety: Why I Broke Up With the Sport