I am writing this as a response to Kristyyd's post entitled "NFL and CTE - Is it Worth the Risk"
Besides the horrible study quoted by her post and in many articles in the press, the attitude of sports fans that choose to be a victim bother me too. One of the reasons you let your kids play sports including football, boxing, karate or even soccer is so they won't grow up with the victim mentality. I was as disappointed with the comments to her post as I was to the post. I expect sports fans to know the truth and not allow that type of misappropriation of science on this forum.
Some points I want to make with regards to whether it is worth the risk to let you child play football.
- Concussions do not equal CTE there are other factors including genetic disposition. While evidence suggests correlations between repeated head trauma (hits not concussions) and CTE there are too many variables to say any concussion regardless of severity or cause will lead to CTE or cause cognitive impairment. We have no understanding of all of the causes of CTE or the prevalence of CTE in the general population. CTE can only be diagnosed after death.
- Concussions are dangerous and every parent should know the signs of a possible concussion. This is true whether your kids play sports or not. But sports is a great vehicle to learn skills that make you a better human being and more successful in life.
- There is no evidence that playing football leads to impaired mental ability later in life.
- The study quoted is NOT A SCIENTIFIC STUDY. This is not an opinion and is not up for debate. When you see that study sighted as proof that football is dangerous or causes CTE you should disregard whatever article you are reading. Anyone with any sense of science knows by reading a description of the study that you cannot draw any conclusions from the results except that someone should figure out how to do a scientific study.
I have listed several articles below. They all have something to say about the issue. The most important to me are the first by Merril Hoge and the next to last about a longitudinal study of high school football players in Wisconsin.
Please inform yourself and if your child wants to play sport let them, any sport. If they want to play an instrument let them, any instrument. If they want to grow up a snowflake, take away the video game.
Right now, football players ranging from high schoolers to ex-pros are living in fear of CTE because they read inflammatory, fact-free stories in the press or because they forget where they put their car keys. Some pros are quitting the game in their twenties and giving up years of potential earnings because they fear that playing will cost them their futures. Bad information comes at a high cost. We not only have to get the science right; we have to get the story right.
Our kids, pro athletes, the great game of football and people who care about the truth deserve nothing less.
It is more than just lifestyle issues. Boxers suffer more concussions than any sport, yet the CTE rate is the same or slightly less than NFL players or military personnel. Boxers also seem to lack the huge depression/suicide component that is so prevalent in hockey, military and NFL players. World wide the sport, Football (in america soccer) has a very high concussion rate yet paradoxically low rates of CTE and sequelae.
In this cohort study using data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study among men graduating high school in Wisconsin in 1957, there was no statistically or clinically significant harmful association between playing football in high school and increased cognitive impairment or depression later in life, on average.
Random samples and longitudinal studies that follow players over the course of their careers are needed to find out exactly what football does to the brain, Dr. McKee said.
In the meantime, don’t believe media hype that football is a brain death sentence.