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  1. #1
    BamaNation First Team Huckleberry's Avatar
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    Question Will brain injury discoveries radically change football?

    I watched Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (yeah, I know he's a jerk, but the show is often worth watching) and they had a segment about brain injuries from playing football. Rather than discuss all of the issues they covered, I thought I'd ask how my fellow Alabama fans feel about this topic as it relates to the future of the sport we love.

    Of course, football has always been a contact sport. However, now that coaches, players, and team doctors are so much more aware of the dangers of playing with a concussion, suffering one means you usually don't play again until you're cleared. Regardless, that's not the real issue here.

    Rather than the big hits, doctors are now expressing more concern about the number of repetitive hits to the head that players at all levels take, particularly during practice. While a player might go his entire career (whether it ends in high school, college, or the NFL) without suffering a true (or diagnosed) concussion, it's the amount of helmet-to-helmet and helmet-to-ground contact made during practice that is garnering significant attention.

    As the data in this area continues to be better understood, there are many people (and not just folks looking to make courtroom cash) who are expressing concerns about the long-term effects of continual hits to the head. I think we're all aware of the research underway concerning a possible relationship between concussions and suicide, brain damage, and diseases of the nervous system in former NFL players. However, if reasonable parents become concerned about their child sustaining permanent brain damage simply from playing in high school, there might be a significant decrease in the number of kids who play football at all. Should that happen, the sport most of us played and/or enjoy watching might face an uncertain future. The solution on Real Sports was less hitting in practice. I'm not sure how realisitic that is. Also, though helmet technology can protect the head and absorb some of the force of the hits, there's nothing that can keep the brain from moving around and making some degree of contact with the skull.

    What do you think? Is there a real chance that the sport of football might be very different in two or three decades?

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    FB Moderator Bamabuzzard's Avatar
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    Re: Will brain injury discoveries radically change football?

    The sport will change as much as the paying fan allows it to change and still pay/watch for the product.
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    BamaNation First Team Huckleberry's Avatar
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    Re: Will brain injury discoveries radically change football?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bamabuzzard View Post
    The sport will change as much as the paying fan allows it to change and still pay/watch for the product.
    For the most part, I agree with you. Personally, I hope that the research shows that there is no significant danger to to young players (beyond the obvious dangers of which we are all aware). I don't want to even begin to imagine any changes that would radically alter the sport that we all love. I think that it's clear that many NFL players have made and continue to make huge long-term health sacrifices by playing professional football. Those playing today are men who have little excuse for not being aware of the risks they take. However, the tone of the segment I mentioned and others I've read are beginning to show possible problems for young players. I'm just asking if people think this is a valid concern and what they believe might happen if the medical evidence does indicate a significant health risk for the average high school player. I didn't play football past high school, but I know that no amount of research would have kept me off the field. However, it's usually not the decision of the child. How do those who might have children playing now or in the future feel?

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    FB Moderator Bamabuzzard's Avatar
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    Re: Will brain injury discoveries radically change football?

    I can tell you that if the continued bad press about football the media keeps putting out it's not going to take long at all before we start seeing football go the way of boxing. I've watched several of these documentaries about football and the long term risks of the players, and I must say the media sure does present a lot of things as facts that the medical community has yet to.

    There are still a lot of things we don't know about the long term effects of playing football. As many of the cases (player examples) as the media has trotted out as evidence that football is "too dangerous". There are just as many players who's played football in the NFL who's not shown any signs. So there is still a lot of things we don't know as fact. But if the media continues their full court press on presenting this issue in a biased, slanted view, this sport may prematurely die. Because I can tell you fewer and fewer parents are letting their kids play football. It shows in the youth leagues now days. I coached for six years and saw it myself. Each year we'd have less and less teams in our league. Kids' parents just didn't let them play.
    The existence of God isn't determined in the thoughts of man. God exist, no matter what man thinks.

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    Re: Will brain injury discoveries radically change football?

    I think fewer and fewer kids are playing football at levels below high school and alot of that has to do with the popularity of so many other sports (soccer, lacrosse, etc.) as well as the health risks that are so garnering so much attention recently. However, I doubt we will see in the next 10 to 15 years a drop off in talent at the high school level because so many of the highly coveted players come from areas where sports are seen as the only way to a better life.

    I do feel bad for some of the older generation of players who unknowingly put themselves at risk. Guys like Mike Webster who played for years and were incapable of functioning in society once their playing days were over. We can bury our heads in the sand on this stuff until sufficient evidence is produced, but I think it's a real danger. Even guys like Junior Seau probably didn't realize the long term effects that football would have. The bottom line is that the selfish part of me doesn't want to see the game I love to watch be diminished, but changes are probably for the best.

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    Re: Will brain injury discoveries radically change football?

    I have a concern that we are only one legal case away from high schools dropping football. The first time someone successfully sues a high school for damages related to a football injury that results in a large settlement will cause most if not all high schools to evaluate there participation in all sports. Many high schools cannot afford the cost of liability insurance if court cases become common.

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    BamaNation Hall of Fame BamainBoston's Avatar
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    Re: Will brain injury discoveries radically change football?

    The simple fact of the matter is that many sports have repetitive head injury risks. Soccer is one of the worst sports for that. Over the course of a soccer players career, he or she has thousands of hits to an unprotected head, whether by hitting other players or the ball. People think soccer is safer than football because it has less big hits. It's not. Injuries are a risk in sports. Long term injuries are a significant--if fairly rare--occurrence.

    Of course, the press is sensationalizing everything. When Junior Seau committed suicide, a thousand articles were written about how it was a concussion related death. How many follow ups when an autopsy revealed no damage to his brain and nothing unusual that would explain his death? Very few.

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    Re: Will brain injury discoveries radically change football?

    I don't understand why the helmet cannot be reengineered. It's purely physics.

  10. #9

    Re: Will brain injury discoveries radically change football?

    Can you still call yourself (media sponsored) the normal everyday super cool "Soccer Mom" if you take your kid to football practice? No you can't, you're out of style.

    I have not seen stats but I bet that football is declining by income level, having more access to alternative sports like soccer and education level. It will be seen as a gladiator sport one day. Soccer is global and corporations could make a lot more money off of soccer if it was to ever become the dominate sport. I could see soccer being shoved at us through television. Coercion through television shows like Gumbels.

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    BamaNation Hall of Fame gmart74's Avatar
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    Re: Will brain injury discoveries radically change football?

    I've always wondered about toddlers constantly falling down and hitting their head on the floor. I wonder how many TBI's are happening at such a young age when the brain is still developing. Maybe we should stop walking.

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    BamaNation All-SEC tidefanbeezer's Avatar
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    Re: Will brain injury discoveries radically change football?

    It is interesting to see how the media has run with the concussion issue.

    This is a sport that was popularized due in part to the violence on the field. It's like watching modern day gladiators. There should be little surprise that there would be lasting damage to the body as a whole (not just the brain) when grown men run full speed into each other. But I guess that's the way the media works.

    My hope is that the equipment technology advances enough to mitigate concussions and keep the spirit of the game. It would be a shame if they legislate the game into obscurity.

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    Re: Will brain injury discoveries radically change football?

    Quote Originally Posted by gmart74 View Post
    I've always wondered about toddlers constantly falling down and hitting their head on the floor. I wonder how many TBI's are happening at such a young age when the brain is still developing. Maybe we should stop walking.
    I realize you are saying this in jest but you don't really believe this do you? Your kids must be "balance challenged" because none of mine ever constantly fell and hit their head. I can't ever remember a single incident when any of my children fell AND hit their head. My wife couldn't remember any either. Nevertheless, I get your point that brain injuries can happen doing do to day activities. There just aren't that many such activities that cause humans to crash into each other numerous times a day.

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    BamaNation All-SEC Padreruf's Avatar
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    Re: Will brain injury discoveries radically change football?

    A grave concern...a former UA db told me that he was knocked out 8x playing football. My cure...take off the helmets. They allow a false sense of security.
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