Saturday, September 19, 2015

New Evidence That Football Destroys Players' Brains

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
I will confess at the outset that I am NOT a fan of football, especially at the pro-level for a number of reasons.  First, I see pro-football as the current incarnation of the Roman gladiatorial games of old.  In my view, the wider public should not get sport and entertainment out of seeing others injure one another.  And then there are the obscene salaries that pro-football players make that are totally out of any relation to their positive contributions to society.  Adding to my aggravation is the fact that many members of the public pay not attention to world events, politics and other things that really matter in where society and the globe are headed, yet they know every detail about dumb lug football players some of whom strike  me as having the same intellect as a Percheron or a  Clydesdale (maybe even less).  Now, with a grandson, I worry the he - or more likely his father - may want him to play football when he gets older.  Therefore, I am happy that more and more studies are revealing that the sport is inherently injurious to players. Mother Jones looks at new study findings:
A new joint study by the US Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University found that 87 out of 91 former NFL players who donated their brains for examination showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease also known as CTE. The report out of the nation's largest brain bank, which received a $1 million research grant from the NFL in 2010, supports prior research suggesting that playing football could have long-lasting neurological effects over the course of an athlete's life.

As reported first by Frontline:
In total, the [Boston University] lab has found CTE in the brain tissue in 131 out of 165 individuals who, before their deaths, played football either professionally, semi-professionally, in college or in high school.

Forty percent of those who tested positive were the offensive and defensive linemen who come into contact with one another on every play of a game, according to numbers shared by the brain bank with FRONTLINE. That finding supports past research suggesting that it's the repeat, more minor head trauma that occurs regularly in football that may pose the greatest risk to players, as opposed to just the sometimes violent collisions that cause concussions.
CTE can only be accurately identified posthumously, and it's important to remember that many of the ex-players who donated their brains to BU did so because they thought they might have the disease. Still, the results are more bad news for the NFL, which for years has been criticized over its handling of concussions and brain research. The league has long denied a link between the sport and long-term brain disease . . . but in April it gained approval for a $1 billion settlement with about 5,000 retired players, resolving concussion-related lawsuits.

Dr. Ann McKee, who is the chief neuropathologist at the brain bank, told Frontline: "People think that we're blowing this out of proportion, that this is a very rare disease and that we're sensationalizing it. My response is that where I sit, this is a very real disease. We have had no problem identifying it in hundreds of players."

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