www.herald-journal.com
Protect the head
Jan. 21, 13
by Jenni Sebora

I recently read an article regarding football players who have sustained hits to the head and the ramifications of these blows.

I know I may have people contesting this article. Football is probably the number-one sport is America. My 8-year-old daughter would like to go out for football. It is America’s sport. However, as a mom, I am glad that none of my own children play it. Of course, the reason is safety.

Now, I know I have heard parents say things such as “You can get injured in any sport, or riding in a vehicle.” Etc. Etc. Etc.

However, the purpose of basketball or gymnastics or Knowledge Bowl (an activity I coach) is not to tackle someone. And when someone is tackled, body parts impact the ground. The ground is hard. Hitting the ground over and over is certainly not good to any body part, but especially to the head. And the head houses your brain. We need our brain to think, and make our other body parts do what they are supposed to do.

And, when a body part isn’t coming in contact with the ground, it is coming in contact with another player’s hard pad or helmet with great force. The brain can ricochet within the skull with each hard hit. This ricocheting back and forth over many hits, over many games, seasons most certainly can cause damage, and many times irreversible damage.

Over the last few years, the football community has taken this more seriously; concussion testing; not allowing certain hits; concussion training requirements of coaches. Articles regarding this issue, and even mainstream news forms are getting the news out that it is the repetitious hits that can cause the most damage to a person’s thinking and processing center.

The brains of deceased football players have been studied. It has been determined that in many of these studies, the brain has been impacted by those hits to the head. This, in turn, has led to memory loss, dementia, depression, and other such issues. Just today, as I am finishing this article, I heard a news bleep about a study that was done on football players who sustained hits to the head and are now dealing with depression. It was determined that in all of these cases, the white matter in the brain was affected.

And what about boxing? The purpose of boxing: knock someone out and you win; or give the most blows and you win. Why is this allowed? Okay, I have never tried it, nor will I. I am sure there are people in the boxing world who will argue reasons for promotion of the sport.

Of course, what would America do without football? I have brothers and nephews who played, and play the sport. I watch the Vikings and the Packers, too (default team when the Vikings are not playing or out of the play-offs), as my husband is from Wisconsin. But I have always had strong feelings regarding the danger of the sport. My husband knows this. I am a mother. Mothers (well, many) have that built-in child safety detector.

In fact, just this last week, when the Packers were playing San Francisco in the play-offs, my husband commented to me that he would be lonely watching the game as he thought I was on a football watching strike. I actually did not watch it because sleep took precedence.

I know that football will most likely remain the beloved sport of many Americans. Knowledge Bowl or chess or Math Bowl will never be a popular spectator sport, but they certainly require skills that will be valuable in life forever. Hopefully, information regarding concussions, prevention, education and continued safety measures will continue to go forward.


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