Originally posted on The Awesome Boston  |  Last updated 12/5/12
ABC News: On the heels of the latest NFL suicide, researchers announced today that 34 NFL players whose brain were studied suffered from CTE, a degenerative brain disease brought on by repeated hits to the head that results in confusion, depression and, eventually, dementia. The study was released just days after the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. It’s not yet known what triggered Belcher’s action, but they mirror other NFL players who have committed suicide. Researchers at Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy published the largest case series study of CTE to date, according to the center. Of the 85 brains donated by the families of deceased veterans and athletes with histories of repeated head trauma, they found CTE in 68 of them. Of those, 34 were professional football players, nine others played college football and six played only high school football. Of the 35 professional football players’ brains donated, only one had no evidence of the disease, according to the study. A.B. For those of you keeping score at home, that is 97%. In other words, based on this small sampling, if you play in the NFL you WILL suffer from CTE. Scary stuff. And even if that percentage goes down as this study continues, a 97% starting point is staggering. Before reading this I would have made the argument that it depends on the position you played – and I think it’s still somewhat fair. Obviously a defensive lineman going head first into every tackle is going to be more at risk than the punter. And obviously this study seemed to target those who had a documented history of head trauma. But the idea that Americans are beginning to become aware of, although it was staring them in the face the whole time, is that voilent sports like football have long term effects. We are humans, we are fragile in the long run. What we need now is less debate about the effects of a game like football and more education on the subject. Cigarettes are bad for your health but you have the right to smoke. Speeding in a car is dangerous but you control the gas pedal. We need to admit that sports like football have long term consequences and let people weigh the benefits and risks.
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