Football Is Unsafe and Should Be Banned

Written by Ralph E. Stone. Posted in Opinion, Sports

Tagged: , , ,

Published on February 04, 2016 with 2 Comments

Former Oakland Raider quarterback Kenny Stabler was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy upon his death.

Former Oakland Raider quarterback Kenny Stabler was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy upon his death.

By Ralph E. Stone

February 4, 2016

With all the hoopla surrounding Super Bowl 50, news that the late Kenny Stabler suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), shines light on the health dangers of playing American football.

Stabler was a former quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, who died of colon cancer on July 8, age 69.  An autopsy revealed Stabler had CTE, believed to be caused by repeated blows to his head.  Stabler played high school football, college football at the University of Alabama and played in the National Football League (NFL) from 1970 to 1984.

The symptoms of CTE include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety, suicidality, parkinsonism, and, eventually, progressive dementia. These symptoms often begin years or even decades after the last brain trauma.

As of September 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University identified CTE in 96 percent of NFL players, 79 percent of all football players, and found in the brain tissue in 131 out of 165 individuals who played football either professionally or semi-professionally, in college or in high school.  CTE can only be positively identified post-mortem.

But football players wear helmets.  Shouldn’t helmets protect players from the trauma of a head-on collision? No, helmets are designed to protect the skull, not the brain. The brain can be damaged as it smashes against the skull, causing a range of symptoms including headaches, concussion and loss of consciousness.

Despite the dangers, football may be too big to ban.  According to Bloomberg, the NFL’s annual revenue is $9.5 billion with the overall market value of the 32 teams estimated to be $46 billion.  And colleges and universities – the NFL’s minor leagues – are valued in the hundreds of millions.  For example, Ohio State is valued at $948 million, Texas at $885 million, Michigan at $811 million and Notre Dame at $724 million.  In many colleges and universities, income from football pays for most, if not all, collegiate sports.

Football is not a safe sport.  US health officials should finally recognize there is a national public health crisis in American football and act accordingly.

The only way to prevent football-related CTE is by not playing football.

Ralph E. Stone

I was born in Massachusetts; graduated from Middlebury College and Suffolk Law School; served as an officer in the Vietnam war; retired from the Federal Trade Commission (consumer and antitrust law); travel extensively with my wife Judi; and since retirement involved in domestic violence prevention and consumer issues.

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  1. Soccer, Hockey, Boxing, Cricket, Skiing, Skateboarding, Horse Riding, Rugby, Cycling,,,I think I will stay indoors

  2. How about a law requiring Bike Helmets? That will do more good…..