There is a lot to think about in this article, but this really speaks to what football may find itself dealing with very soon.
“I do think the moment we have an accurate diagnostic test will be a moment of reckoning for the game. Because you can imagine people seem to be comfortable and cool with at least one out of 10 NFL players having this disease, which is what we’ve seen over the last 10 years, that one out of 10 who died have had it. It’s actually a much higher percentage in the last five years. We’re comfortable with adults getting it. But we’re not going to be comfortable with more kids getting it. If you put a high school team through the test and you find out it’s more than one kid, who’s a minor, who has this disease already, people may not be able to sign their children up anymore. Who’s going to let them play?
I look at it this way. There’s still nearly one out of five Americans who smoke, despite the fact they know it’s got a good chance of accelerating their death. So there always will be people that are just going to ignore the science and say it’s worth it and it’s my choice. But I also get the sense that once we can diagnose this and get an idea of the scope there’s going to be a scramble. And there’s a decent chance that no one wants to go back on that field who doesn’t need the money, that isn’t being paid. And that would shut down all but the professional leagues.”
And, lest you think this is only a football problem, I suggest to you that it will only be round one. Hockey, and even soccer, may find themselves dealing with similar issues in the future.
Go read the whole article though, I think there’s plenty in it beyond the usual fear mongering, especially looking at the Hilinski case and the mental health effects that concussions have. We don’t know enough about anxiety and depression as it is, adding in CTE or even just a concussion as another possible factor is just another area we do not understand, but need to spend a lot more time and money researching.
A diagnostic tool that could detect CTE in a living patient is going to change how we look at head injuries, and sports. I’m not sure what it’ll look like after that.
Photo by Lorie Shaull