Just how safe is playing football? One doctor says it’s safer than riding a bike or skateboard.
According to NBC Sports, many NFL doctors are raising their voices, proclaiming that there is no link between playing youth football and CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, which entails build-up of tau proteins in the brain of a person who suffers repeated traumatic damage to the cranial area. These build-ups can cause loss of memory, dexterity, flexibility, and can lead to death at what may be perceived as too early an age.
Dr. Matt McCarthy explained “A cause and effect relationship has not as yet been demonstrated between CTE and concussions or exposure to contact sports.”
“The statement runs counter to almost everything you have read about CTE, but it received virtually no media attention in the United States when it was released,” Dr. McCarthy added. “In part, that’s because it speaks to the far higher burden of proof in the scientific community than the one in the public consciousness. But that’s the point. The popular consensus has far outstripped the science.”
Dr. Joseph Maroon, who serves as a consultant to the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee, and as the team neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers, says though there are CTE issues, those are being overexaggerated.
According to the Huffington Post, Dr. Maroon, in a recent interview, commented that kids playing football are safer than a kid riding a bike or skateboarding.
Maroon has been known to downplay the concussion issue with youth football. In 2013, he participated in a study that was meant to show no correlation between hits in youth football and long-term mental issues, like CTE. Pop Warner football decided to limit the number of hits in their games. Still, Pop Warner participation has decreased in recent years, and many parents no longer with their children to participate in football.
The main issue is the long-term effects from youth football, combined with high school, college, and professional football. A Boston University School of Medicine study did show, however, that of 42 former pros who started playing football before the age of 12, half began showing increased cognitive, behavioral, and mood issues. Some former NFL players who have committed suicide, such as Dave Duerson and Junior Seau, donated their brains to science to further the study of CTE in players after retiring from football. The threat of possible long-term damage was enough to convince 49ers linebacker Chris Borland to retire after only one year in the league. Borland is 24-years-old.
Though studies have shown a pattern, the doctors have correctly stated that no concrete correlation has been proven. It seems, though, like it is just a matter of time before the needed proof will be discovered.
[Image courtesy of Jason Cohn/Reuters]