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Medicine Science

Growing Evidence of Football Causing Brain Damage 684

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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:27PM (#39881241)

    Yes, but will it cause brain damage?

  • 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 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?

  • No big surprise (Score:4, Interesting)

    by danaris ( 525051 ) <> 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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:10PM (#39881991)

    Well, of course we can't have too much sympathy for grown adults who voluntarily choose this path. But the problem comes when you think about the societal, parental and cultural pressure that the entire industry creates that pressures unknowing children into this career path. I hate to be a 'think of the children' guy. But that really is the problem, How many fathers push their kids into football?

      If this is truly harmful to the future mental and physical health of minors, then it is definitely something we ought to rethink. Not outlaw, but at least rethink.

    Now if you're 18+, go hit your head for as much money as you want. It's your choice and as long as such studies keep becoming available I won't have to much to feel sorry for you about.

  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @04:23PM (#39882237)

    Besides, who cares what someone's Idiot Quotient is?

    Other idiots.

  • 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 [] -- 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 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.

  • They do tests with accelerometers in helmets actually. And there is a big industry right now in trying to design safer helmets.

    The headline is a bit misleading in that many of these studies have concluded the sheet number of small hits is actually more dangerous than the few big ones that lead to concussions. Even players who never get a concussion can be looking at a lifetime of neurological conditions. If I recall, the average NFL player dies over 10 years earlier than the average American. Considering these are frequently relatively wealthy people with good health care, that should say something.

    We used to say football was barbaric when it was played without much in the way of helmets and pads, but the real issue is that we have people over 300 pounds who are pure muscle and can run a 4.5 40 yard dash. People hit with far more force in football today than they did 50 years ago. And that trend will likely continue. At some point, something will have to give.

    BTW, I love the game of football, but I am concerned about the well being of players. And I'm not sure I'd let my son play if I had one.

  • by beerdragoon ( 1142579 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @05:01PM (#39882863)
    It is not just the NFL. The NHL had three [] player [] suicides [] 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 vonwilkenstein ( 817078 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @05:09PM (#39882979)
    Emmit Smith [] 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

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