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Growing Evidence of Football Causing Brain Damage 684

Posted by timothy
from the could've-told-you-that dept.
ideonexus writes "NFL Linebacker Junior Seau's suicide this week bears a striking similarity to NFL Safety Dave Duerson's suicide last year, who shot himself in the chest so that doctors could study his brain, where they found the same chronic traumatic encephalopathy that has been found in the brains of 20 other dead football players. Malcom Gladwell stirred up controversy in 2009 by comparing professional football to dog fighting for the trauma the game inflicts on players' brains. With mounting evidence that the repeated concussions football players receive during their careers causing a lifetime of brain problems, it raises serious concerns about America's most popular sport and ethical questions for its fanbase."
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Growing Evidence of Football Causing Brain Damage

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  • by coldsalmon (946941) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:13PM (#39881081)

    Just because you see a bunch of people who seem brain damaged anywhere there is evidence of football does not mean that you've found "evidence of football causing brain damage."

    • by Galestar (1473827) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:14PM (#39881093)
      Perhaps only people with brain damage want to play(/watch) football?
    • by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:21PM (#39881175)
      Did you read the article? It's not just "they have brain damage." It was specifically that they had trauma induced brain damage.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:27PM (#39881223)

      Yeah except they know the cause of long-term brain damage. The brain receives a sudden shock, and connections between neurons "stretch". Like a spring the neurons will gradually return to their normal lengths, but not without consequences.

      The stretching leaves behind intracellular damage, and eventually that damage causes the neuron's dendrite to stop producing transmitter chemicals. The neuron then commits suicide (apoptosis). After you lose enough neurons you end-up like these football players and boxers.

      So to simplify: Neurons are like springs and when they experience head trauma, they stretch beyond their ability to reheal properly. Then they die.

      • by reub2000 (705806)

        Then what are the effects of this brain damage? Can it cause a mood disorder or other psychological issues as the article is suggesting?

        • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:26PM (#39882277) Journal

          My understanding is yes. And it isn't just football players who are prone. There is a growing body of evidence in professional hockey and boxing that similar kinds of injuries lead to long-term behavioral and cognitive disorders. Remember, the brain does it all, so if impacts are severe enough to nail one kind of higher function, it's enough bugger up another. Whether it's the cerebellum or the cerebrum, they're all vulnerable.

    • by Catbeller (118204) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:43PM (#39881477) Homepage

      You are misusing logic. If we went by that standard, nothing would be responsible for anything.

      It is reasonable to assume that thousands of head-on collisions would damage the brain. Even one car crash can cause lifelong tissue damage; imagine what hundreds or thousands do.

      That stipulated, you look for evidence. No-one had actually looked before, not really; we're sociologically prone to not look, because we like football. It's like asking people to look for brain damage caused by kneeling to pray to God, and I don't think that's too extreme a comparison.

      Evidence was looked for, and found in abundance. Football players who received such shocks to the brain show, post-mortem, significant damage to the tissues. Live players who submit to tests show similar damage to their living brains. Such damage is not normally found in people who do not receive shocks to the brain for a living. It is found in those who do.

      At this point, this is a done deal. Throwing people around and suddenly slamming them to a stop causes brain damage resulting in reduced capacity, depression, strange behavior, and eventually, for some, death by repeated trauma.

      Now. What do we do about it? Football, American style, is crippling and killing the players. Do we stop? If not, why not? How far does the human delusion go in the face of reality?

    • by operagost (62405)

      Maybe the NFL needs to make a better effort at public relations.

      Since the plight of athletes such as Mike Webster and Andre Waters was publicized (even before Duerson), the NFL was also making efforts to reduce concussions through rule changes. Besides modifying the rule for "defenseless receivers", they have a rule that requires all athletes who lose consciousness on the field or are seen to take a blow to the head be examined by a physician on the sideline. If they are determined to have a concussion, t

      • by ArcherB (796902) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:48PM (#39882677) Journal

        I know it sounds counter intuitive, but I think the best way to reduce brain injuries now is to simply remove the helmets from the game. Sure, there will be more broken noses, but you will see brain injuries drop substantially. People just don't lead with their heads when moving full speed at a target heading full speed back.

        • by vonwilkenstein (817078) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @05:09PM (#39882979)
          Emmit Smith [slashdot.org] suggested returning to leather helmets for just this reason. The helmet has become a weapon. It does not matter what the "rules" say because the profit incentive will always provide an end around (hehe). The team doctors will likely bow to the pressures of the owners who are writing the bazillion dollar salary checks, and clear the players for play. Unless the NFL is prepared to make a real stand in favor of people, as opposed to profits, (yeah, like that MIGHT happen)..the players will continue to suffer
  • by Galestar (1473827) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:13PM (#39881083)
    Why we need doctors to tell us this? Isn't it pretty obvious that if you get hit in the head a lot, it will cause brain damage?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:22PM (#39881187)

      What's new are the long term consequences (sometimes not manifesting until decades later), and the links to depression, domestic violence, and suicide.

      I think the NFL has a big problem.

      • No big surprise (Score:4, Interesting)

        by danaris (525051) <danaris @ m a c . c om> on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:45PM (#39881537) Homepage

        The fact that a sport that is basically glorified violence causes mental problems in the participants over the course of time does not come as a huge surprise to me.

        In fact, I think that when the country finally wakes up and realizes that the right thing to do is to abandon violent sports like American football, rugby, and hockey (at least, hockey as it is commonly played today) for good, it will be a huge net positive for America and, indeed, for the world.

        Dan Aris

      • by beerdragoon (1142579) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @05:01PM (#39882863)
        It is not just the NFL. The NHL had three [wikipedia.org] player [wikipedia.org] suicides [wikipedia.org] this summer alone. All three of these players were enforcer type players who routinely fought to earn their salaries. The link between professional athletes getting hit in the head a lot and the issues you described is getting hard to deny.
    • by rhsanborn (773855) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:30PM (#39881281)
      Well, it brings up a lot of interesting questions, like, if these consistent head blows causes serious, lasting brain damage, how do we deal with minors playing the sport? Is it tantamount to neglect if you let your kids play football? (I won't let mine, for this very reason) The south might rise up a second time if we told them no more high school football. That's where studies help. Evidence gives us cause to make decisions.
      • by mooingyak (720677) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:40PM (#39881431)

        The south might rise up a second time if we told them no more high school football.

        If we're lucky. This time around we might be able to let them go.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:40PM (#39881437) Journal

      Why we need doctors to tell us this? Isn't it pretty obvious that if you get hit in the head a lot, it will cause brain damage?

      There are three things at play:

      1. Our understanding of the (sometimes subtle) effects of relatively mild concussions and subconcussive trauma is actually a great deal better now than it was until fairly recently. Being able to view trauma-induced lesions(albeit by postmortem slice-n-stain) is fairly new. It has never been news that dramatic blows to the head will kill and/or disable you good and hard; but the epidemiology of correlating apparently minor ones with risks of a variety of psychological and degenerative conditions over time is tricker.

      2. It takes time, if it happens at all, for those pointy-headed 'experts' with their 'evidence' to make it through the wall of popular opinion. Historically, the accepted treatment for most forms of sporting trauma was 'Man up and rub some dirt in it, pussy.' The idea that this might actually be a wildly stupid idea was not an immediate hit.

      3. Frequent head trauma is commonly an occupational hazard. Football, boxing, hockey, military service, etc. Shockingly, most industries strongly resist the notion that their employees are being sickened or harmed by the conditions in their workplaces, because that might lead to increased liability, mitigation costs, or even having to shut down. It doesn't help that, in the case of football, much of the treatment of players was handled by team doctors, who have a certain incentive to keep the livestock in the game and producing, and among whom suggestions of serious harm were not a good way to make yourself popular...

      • by Catbeller (118204)

        You named boxing and football as occupations with deceleration injuries comparable to, say, military service. No... soldiers do not receive hundreds or thousands of collision/stop injuries. A single bomb would do it; but that's just one shock, not thousands. If they show brain damage, they should be sent home, and frequently are.
        I can't think of any other non-sport job that requires head-on collisions as a price to play. Both boxing and football are killer sports.

    • by jd (1658) <.imipak. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:20PM (#39882181) Homepage Journal

      The brain damage is obvious (well, at least to anyone who thinks about it - I honestly doubt the majority of American Football fans do).

      What has been in dispute is whether the adoption of safety measures (helmets, padding, etc) has helped or hurt. The tide of medical opinion seems to be that it has hurt, that all the gear gives an illusion of safety that doesn't really exist, leading to more frequent, high momentum impacts. What has also been in dispute is whether players have been placed in excessive danger due to the machismo involved - that concussions have been treated as no big deal, resulting in players with potentially serious head injuries being ordered back onto the field, and that the desire to win at all costs by managers, sponsors and players has resulted in a level of injury and death that simply wouldn't exist if the players were more concerned with playing well than with the scoreline.

      Certainly, you don't see reports of multiple suicides by New Zealand All Black Rugby players (although Rugby is arguably a more vicious game). Soccer players have reported deafness as a result of head injuries, but you don't see the massive incidents of domestic violence. That's usually left to the fans. (Ooops, did I say that?) Formula 1 drivers suffer incredible head trauma, but injuries of that kind are treated with extreme caution (neurologists are included amongst the circuit medics and brain scans after an accident are standard).

      I'm not saying any of these sports are "safe" - soccer has worked on making the ball lighter to reduce head trauma, which is good, but all of these involve participants suffering brain injuries from time to time. What I am saying is that American Football appears to have both a higher incidence of brain injury AND a greater severity of brain injury when incidents occur than any of the other sports I listed. Which is impressive, when you think about it, given that F1 cars can slam into a barrier at 170 mph.

      Of course, the big difference is that most F1 drivers have a major shunt perhaps two or three times a year, but American Football players can suffer head trauma every play and there will typically be between 60-80 of those per game (http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/plays-per-game) over 16 games per season (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Football_League_regular_season), which gives you between 960-1280 potential head injuries per year.

      Repetitive, untreated head trauma is going to be worse than a very few, treated head injuries even if the latter are more severe in a given incident.

      Ok, what about soccer? It has plenty of head impacts. Well, according to studies, players head the ball 6-12 times in a game. (http://journals.lww.com/neurosurgery/Fulltext/2012/01000/Heading_in_Soccer___Dangerous_Play_.1.aspx) That's a tenth the number of head impacts of American Football. The mass of a soccer ball is 1 lb, but the mass of an American Football player can be 290 lbs. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Castillo_%28American_football%29) If the impacts were at the same speed, you've vastly more momentum per collision in American Football -plus- vastly more collisions.

      There's plenty of evidence that some brain injuries occur in soccer, though it's not easy to see how this can be reduced much further given that we've gone from pig-skin leather soccer balls to ultra-light plastic. (http://www.oysan.org/Assets/oysa_assets/doc/coachingarticles/ConcussionFindings.pdf and http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(03)00579-9/fulltext) [thelancet.com] This needs to be publicly recognized. It is NOT a risk-free sport and brain trauma IS inevitable.

      Rugby is perhaps a more difficult sport to explain. Head crunches aren't uncommon (although leg tackles are the standard), all manner of injuries are very common, and the forces are absolutely incredible. (A rugby scrum can put 20 tonnes of force down your spine.) True, the All Black's Haka (htt

    • by pz (113803) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:27PM (#39882303) Journal

      Why we need doctors to tell us this? Isn't it pretty obvious that if you get hit in the head a lot, it will cause brain damage?

      Because the NFL has been pretty proactive about rules regarding helmets and head injury. Also, because there's vast amounts of money involved. But most importantly, the growing evidence is not that repeated concussions that rise to the clinical level are bad -- which we can rightfully assume is true, just as repeatedly getting a bad bruise on one's thigh is unlikely to be good long-term -- but that less severe head impacts have a cumulative effect. That's what the NFL is most afraid of, and rightfully so, because it would mean elimination of the sport as we know it, and the potential liability would be enormous.

      Because of the vast sums of money involved, it will take solid, iron-clad, repeated and verified medical evidence to make the necessary changes to protect the health of the NFL players. Or, an acceptance by the players and NFL that long-term health impact is expected, with appropriate supportive care provided for the lifetime of the players.

  • by who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:15PM (#39881113)
    and with the millions of dollars they are paid, how many of them donated to research? Football is modern day gladiator fighting, they are paid to kill each other on the field of battle, not to tickle each other. this is a job hazard and you have have to accept that, if it wasn't you wouldn't be paid as much.
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:45PM (#39881531) Journal

      and with the millions of dollars they are paid, how many of them donated to research?

      What? I don't understand why I need to pay for research when my employer endangers me. Example:

      and with the millions of dollars coal miners were paid, how many of them donated to research? Coal mining is modern day pyramid building, they are paid to sacrifice their bodies so the industrial revolution can push us forward, not to be coddled. this is a job hazard and you have have to accept that, if it wasn't you wouldn't be paid as much.

      There are over one thousand lawsuits by former football players against the league [go.com]. This was covered by NPR a while ago, and it sounds like players are saying "I got hit here, in this game. I had X symptoms. Coach told me I didn't need to see the medical professional because he needed me back in the game. I now experience Y long term ailments." Regardless of the amount they are each paid, this could be compared to mesothelioma from asbestos exposure while installing installation. The NFL has deep pockets, let these players have their day in court.

      Check out Shanahan's suspensions of NHL players [nhl.com]. I will tell you right now that this is the NHL attempting to wash their own hands of similar liabilities. Three hockey players killed themselves very recently.

      Look, in Roman times, people used to die building the aqueducts ... that doesn't mean we accept deaths when companies build dams to service communities. We have technology, engineering, medicine, etc to help us be better than that. We're better than we were thousands of years ago. We don't need the gladiators to die anymore. The NFL is making bank off these players -- even after the players themselves are all millionaires that squander their money within a few years of the end of their career. The courts will decide what liability the NFL must assume.

      • by PCM2 (4486) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:13PM (#39882057) Homepage

        Look, in Roman times, people used to die building the aqueducts ... that doesn't mean we accept deaths when companies build dams to service communities. We have technology, engineering, medicine, etc to help us be better than that.

        The trouble is, if these doctors are right, it doesn't sound like there's anything technology or engineering is going to do about it. The players already wear the most advanced helmets in sports. But no helmet is going to prevent your brain from smashing into the inside of your skull when your head experiences a sudden deceleration. It sounds like the only thing to do is to change the way the game is played. The problem there is that the NFL rules seem to change all the time, not for the benefit of the players, but so that the NFL can maximize profits from the games. They've been engineering game play with that goal in mind for years. They're not going to want to change the game now because the players get hurt.

    • and with the millions of dollars they are paid, how many of them donated to research?

      Well from the summary:

      Malcom Gladwell stirred up controversy in 2009 by comparing professional football to dog fighting for the trauma the game inflicts on players' brains, but with mounting evidence that the repeated concussions football players receive during their careers causing a lifetime of brain problems

      I recall Michael Vick had quite the experiment set up to study this but, of course, PETA shut him down.

      Okay, now I'm going to hell officially.

    • by Catbeller (118204) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:54PM (#39881707) Homepage

      Football players have operated for a century without the knowledge their brains are being damaged. Now, they discover that they are being slowly killed, and will die young if they are lucky, or live to an old age of dementia and depression. "Get over it" ain't gonna do it. They did not accept the hazard; no one had looked for its existence before. Informed consent was lacking.
      Now that we know we're operating the Hunger Games in slow motion, what are we going to do about it? Lie to ourselves? Ignore it? No other business would be allowed to continue killing its employees this way. Money has nothing to do with it. How much do you think dying at 42 with a damaged brain is worth? The current crop of former players are just now finding out they are doomed. The younger ones don't know or don't care - that's part of being young.
      If there was a televised game, let's say, of watching college kids hit themselves in the head with hammers until they drop - would that be legal? Would bets be allowed? How about Russian Roulette? Minefield dodging? Setting yourself on fire? All those things would just kill you instantly. Football kills you ten years after your retire, when no one is looking.

    • by Anomalyst (742352) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:40PM (#39882531)

      they are paid to kill each other on the field of battle, not to tickle each other

      We need to revise the rule list for lingerie football to include this, immediately.

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:58PM (#39882817) Homepage

      this is a job hazard and you have have to accept that, if it wasn't you wouldn't be paid as much.

      How can you accept hazards you don't know exist?

      Every footballer knows that they could suffer major injuries during a game that could end their career or outright cripple them. They have accepted that.

      How many knew that the many minor impacts that occur throughout what would naively be called an injury-free career would result in them suffering long-term brain damage? How many had coaches and trainers tell them that hard hits which didn't obviously injure them were insignificant and they should keep playing?

      How could they have even known this when medical science didn't? Just assume?

      Lastly, the idea that sports players are paid based on the amount of physical danger involved, rather than say the popularity of the sport, their team, and their personal ability as it relates to how much money the sport takes in, is stupid. The idea that this hazard pay had already incorporated the previously unknown risks covered in this study even more so.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:16PM (#39881115)

    The football players particularly. Some of them weren't so smart in their senior year or after graduation. At the time, we made fun of them, which in retrospect kind of sucks. They may have been hostile, bullying and overly aggressive, but brain damage isn't something I'd wish on anyone.

    • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:09PM (#39881981)

      I played football in HS. It was quite joke among the volleyball and tennis players about how dumb football players were. I asked them to compare they're playbooks to ours (end of discussion). It takes more intelligence to be able to play football well than lots of other sports. You not only need to know your responsibilities, you often need to know what other players are doing, and the appropriate reaction to the actions of any of your 8-11 opponents. The way a large number of NFL prospects wash out is they can't pick up their team's playbook fast enough.

      And, you have to know all of this COLD. As in, you have to know your playbook so well it's instinctive. You don't have 2-3 seconds to dredge up the new formation and route when your QB calls an audible.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:17PM (#39881123)
    People with brain cells to lose will avoid this component failure mode anyway. Now please excuse me while I'm destroying my brain with programming.
  • All good (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chillas (144627) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:25PM (#39881205)

    Regardless, football remains a normal, healthy, wholesome activity. Video games, on the other hand, still turn out maladjusted serial killers.

  • Just to be clear... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nrrqshrr (1879148) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:27PM (#39881233)
    We'r talking about the rugby-like football here, not the one kindly called soccer on that other continent.
    • by 21mhz (443080)

      For a moment I thought it's about the gracious sport that's called football anywhere except North America. Then I realized there is no need for concern.

  • In Minnesota (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:27PM (#39881245)

    We're about to spend $1 billion dollars to expand the Vikings stadium from 65,000 to 65,500. I'd call that brain damaged.

  • An easy fix. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ravenshrike (808508) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:27PM (#39881249)

    The solution is obvious, remove all padding.

    • Re:An easy fix. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by readandburn (825014) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:42PM (#39881467)
      If the NFL went back to the type of padding/helmets they had just 20 years ago the players wouldn't be doing this damage to one another. The "armor" has evolved substantially over that time to minimize (cause?) damage, but humans have not.
      • Re:An easy fix. (Score:5, Informative)

        by mooingyak (720677) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:53PM (#39881689)

        If the NFL went back to the type of padding/helmets they had just 20 years ago the players wouldn't be doing this damage to one another. The "armor" has evolved substantially over that time to minimize (cause?) damage, but humans have not.

        Junior Seau started playing over 20 years ago.

        Dave Duerson retired 19 years ago.

        • I know that, but 20 years from now you'll see that the rate of problems will have increased quite a bit.
    • Re:An easy fix. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:43PM (#39881487)

      This makes more sense than you'd think. Boxing injuries and deaths /increase/ when you add gloves, the reason being that hands, unprotected, can't take much more punishment than a face before the brain stops letting you use them. Protected, however, all that energy gets transmitted to the brain and the hands don't take any damage.

    • Re:An easy fix. (Score:4, Informative)

      by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:46PM (#39881557)

      The solution is obvious, remove all padding.

      You mean like they do in other parts of the world with Australian Rules Football [wikipedia.org] or Rugby [wikipedia.org] or Gaelic Football [wikipedia.org]?
       
      Different codes, but no padding and no separate teams for offensive and defensive, and the ball is in play for the entire match, not for a fraction of the time in American Football. I'd guess that the specialized American Footballers couldn't survive another code, yet there is a steady flow of Australian Footballers into America.

  • The long term effect of repeated blows to the head is IMHO the biggest issue facing contact sports, especially (American/Canadian) football and ice hockey. Based on the growing body of research it appears that the the sports are inherently unsafe as they are currently played. Football is the number 1 spectator sport in America, so you can bet the NFL does not want to change too much, and yet they are now being sued by former players [washingtonpost.com] who have suffered concussions during their career. How can the sport be changed to protect the players? Helmet technology will likely continue to improve, but enough to protect from brain damage with repeated hits? Does the NFL become the NTFL (National Touch Football League)? Do we still have linemen block to protect the quarterback, or do pass rushers count to four-Mississippi before rushing?

    Hockey does not seem to be as plagued as football, and eliminating fighting would prevent a lot of injuries as the basic game does not lead to as much trauma to the head as football. Possibly the biggest question for all sports is what the future may hold if parents keep their children off the playing fields. That's something that will be gradual but I expect that the pool of available talent will start to dwindle as the smarter and more talented athletes choose safer career paths (baseball, investment banking?) and only the desperate take chances with their future sanity and health.

  • by LordStormes (1749242) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:35PM (#39881343) Homepage Journal

    The NFL needs to set aside a SUSBTANTIAL of their $9 billion cash flow to researching better helmets. I don't mean moderate improvements. I'm talking about something that can wick away nearly all of the impact force to other parts of the body. This is the single biggest existential threat to the game, and it has got to be resolved.

    • by Pope (17780)

      Won't happen. It's been proven that in the NHL at least, the more armour you give the players, the more risks they take AND the harder they hit. Better helmets won't help the NFL or the players without rendering them immobile. Unless you take away all contact, there's very little to be done.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:12PM (#39882047) Journal
      Unless by 'helmet' one means 'comically large pillow enveloping the head and extending for several meters', there really isn't too much that can be done.

      Helmets, if properly designed, can be very effective at preventing penetration(as with the ones designed to stop shrapnel or moderate-velocity bullets), as well as mitigating otherwise bloody scalp damage and downgrading what would be skull fractures into mere helmet fractures.

      However, there just isn't enough room inside a helmet to achieve a safe deceleration rate. When a running player crashes into something, the brain has to go from X m/s to 0 m/s over a very short distance. Even assuming arbitrarily good material science, allowing you to space out that deceleration however you wish, you have a problem. Even if the player were encased in a perfectly rigid shell, that magically deadened all transmitted impact, you still have the inertia of the brain shoving it up against the interior of the skull.

      Given that severe head trauma is even worse than mild to moderate head trauma, helmets aren't a bad idea; they can reduce damage; but if repeated minor damage is a serious problem, a sport that involves huge numbers of collisions is a problem...
  • RIP jr. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kencurry (471519) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:36PM (#39881367)
    Seau was a great person AND a great football player. He did a lot for kids in our community. He was well-known for his intensity and charm; it is so sad that he was feeling down with no way out and this is the result. Rest in peace.
  • by wanderfowl (2534492) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:38PM (#39881399)

    Hopefully this is a nail in the coffin for College Football. The fact that playing the sport is now seen to be damaging to the mind and brain at the basest levels should quell some of the "We're turning out well-balanced scholars, fit in body and mind" that advocates are spouting. Colleges need football teams like fish need bicycles, and universities of all sorts should be the last institutions encouraging this.

    • by Catbeller (118204) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:15PM (#39882093) Homepage

      Not a chance in hell. Too much money. And college football is a religion in the U.S. Watch and observe denial behavior in action - it's educational. This will take decades to stop, and the supporters will scream "Liberals and government don't tell us what to do!" and "You haven't proven anything!" the entire bloody way. I can name the other topics they similarly fight the bad fight on, but that would depress all of us. A century from now, with thousands of dead players dissected and shown to be damaged, they will STILL print textbooks to tell their children that It Is A Controversy.

  • Agreed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hesaigo999ca (786966) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:06PM (#39881925) Homepage Journal

    The football players are exactly like fighting dogs, made to be just about the game, until they are torn up and spit out, then hopefully they have support or made enough money to support themselves afterwards. Jerry McGuire sums it up, its all about getting the money for the time you play, and your whole family is hoping you get through it in one piece, and with reward to show for it, because there are only so many spots as commentators for washed up football players....sadly.

  • by dtmos (447842) * on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:23PM (#39882239)

    There are lots of other lifestyle-damaging injuries in American football. Ask Jim Otto [sfgate.com] -- he's had his knees replaced not once, but twice, not to mention dozens of other surgeries, arthritis, infections, an amputation, etc.

    If you are an investigative reporter, I suggest that an interesting topic for your research would be to pick a particular team, say, the 1972 Miami Dolphins, and track down all the players. How are they doing -- physically? As well as their peers in other professions? As well as they expected, when they were younger?

  • by k6mfw (1182893) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:35PM (#39882425)

    That's what I heard, and there are less injuries in rugby because players don't wear projective gear (helmet, pads) so it is more of a wrestling match instead of a "run-and-strike" match. Anyone from Europe to chime in on this? It was also mentioned (all this is what I've heard as I've done neither football or rugby) that protective gear for football players is meant to project the person running and tackling the other (or in many ways a striking blow), the protective gear does not really protect the one getting hit.

    I think the other danger of football is distraction, i.e. many young boys are taught going into pro football is a excellent career choice. If you can survive preparing yourself and get selected and still survive training, then by all means become an NFL player. However, pro bowl does not have many job openings (and most cannot qualify) and youngsters will be distracted away from career choices that have wider opportunities. We hear about some former NFL players that go on to successful careers after football, we don't hear from many other former NFL players that are broke.

    Should football be outlawed? No but maybe let people know risks involved. Such legislation probably cause all sorts of bad fallout. I'd like to see US reduce its fascination with football. There are a lot of OTHER SPORTS besides football!

  • by dwpro (520418) <dwpro777@GIRAFFE ... minus herbivore> on Thursday May 03, 2012 @05:28PM (#39883217)

    Some kids start playing football at age 5 in pop warner [popwarner.com], so lets not pretend this is a hazard only borne by adults making informed choices. I played football in middle school/high school, and I bet I suffered some brain injury because of it. I wouldn't say i was adequately informed then of the potential risks, and I likely would have made a poor decision even if I were informed. My parents, on the other hand, would probably have loved to know the true risks of a sport as their baby boy was out there knocking heads. Many of us were lead to believe that modern helmets all but alleviated the risk of brain injury.

    Honestly, kids and young adults are being pressured by parents, coaches, peers into playing a sport that is now known to cause brain damage, and Slashdot can do nothing but complain about professional athletes pay and make fun of dumb jocks.

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