Link – CTE found in Tyler Hilinski before suicide: Researcher reacts

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


Link – It’s Time for Action | by Ken Dryden

This is something very important for all of us as sports fans to consider, and it’s also personal for me.

“Most journalists I’ve spoken with since the book was released, and most of the people who have stopped me on the street or in airports — men and women — have kids. And like all parents, when it comes to their kids, they worry most about the unknowns. They fear that their hockey-playing kids will tear up their knees, lose their dream of playing in the NHL and live the rest of their lives with regret and a limp. But far more than that, they fear that their kids will tear up their brains, lose all of their dreams and live the rest of their lives as … not them. “

Now, there are two stories I want to share with you related to what Ken Dryden says about concussions in the NHL, and why he is of the opinion that any blow to the head should be a penalty, period.

First, I have had a concussion. A very mild one. It happened, believe it or not, playing hockey. I was playing defense in a roller hockey pickup game one Saturday morning, took a misstep when pivoting my skates and fell straight back, the back of my helmet hitting the concrete directly.

Now, mind you, that contact with my head was nothing, NOTHING, like what happens in an NHL game routinely, and the effects were mild, only lasting 48 hours or so. But that 48 hour period was a small window into what the world must look like for people who’ve had multiple concussions every day, and it was not pretty.

I sat alone in my house, in total silence and darkness. Light and noise hurt my head and made me very irritable. My eyesight was a bit blurry, I had no appetite.

Then, it went away and I was fine. One minor concussion, but no real damage. Again, NOTHING compared to what happens to professional hockey players over and over again.

The other story I want to share is about depression and mental health. We’ve seen story after story about former NFL and NHL players taking their own lives, or struggling with their mental health, after taking many hits to the head. I also happen to know a lot about that.

Not related to concussions, I have struggled with depression in the past, and I’ve even made an attempt to take my own life. I know, for sure, what living in that sort of hell is like. I can’t, in good conscious, watch someone go through that same thing, knowing that we could have done something as simple as protecting their head better to have avoided that.

I just can’t. No matter how much I love the games, I can’t sit by and know that there’s something about these games that is causing these people to have to suffer that kind of consequence without speaking out about it, and frankly, being in support of making changes.

Would no fighting and no hits to the head be different than the hockey I grew up with? Absolutely. But the hockey I grew up with might also be killing some of it’s players. It’s OK to make changes that help it not do that.

Link – Redskins Linebacker Says His Eyes Don’t Work Because of a Concussion


Then again, if a concussion is a brain injuring, why wouldn’t things like your eyesight be permanently disrupted by damage caused to the nerve receptors in your brain?

The more we learn about the damage done by concussions, the more we have to start wondering about the future of contact sports.

Link – High school teams in Washington are forfeiting rather than play school with NFL-sized talent

bykst / Pixabay

bykst / Pixabay

“With the latest opponent forfeiture, this one coming Wednesday by Granite Falls High, the Wildcats will move to 6-0, with their last three victories occurring without even having to play a down.

The reason? The Wildcats are just too huge.

Archbishop Murphy has six players who weight at least 250 pounds and three who weigh at least 300 pounds, according to CBS News.”

With what we are learning bout head injuries and the long-term effects of concussions, would you let your 5 foot 6 inch, 120 pound freshman be on the same field with, and getting hit by, a 300-pound 18 year old man? I think there’s a legitimate safety issue there, and apparently so do a lot of other people.

Where does the future of football stand if a lot more parents start pulling their kids from getting hit by bigger kids like this? I guess we’re about to find out.

Link – A career built on fighting takes its toll on a former enforcer

“Robert Frid fought hundreds of times over three years of junior hockey and eight seasons in the lower minor leagues. He’s had at least 75 concussions and been knocked unconscious many times. Declared permanently disabled in his 30s, Frid, now 41, doesn’t think he has much time left “

The story is sad, but as I read it I began to question some things. Think about the arguments for fighting that we typically hear from the Don Cherry’s of the world.

1. The players make their own decisions and know the risks.
2. Players get paid to play a game, if they get hurt, again, they decided it was worth the risk.

If you want to make those arguments (there are others, admittedly) then can we discuss the reality of life in Junior and low minor-league hockey.

Why would we allow, even encourage, fighting, in Juniors, when some of these kids are not even legally allowed to vote. Do we really think they are making their own, informed, decisions about fighting?

Guys in lower-level minor leagues get “paid” in name only, really. I used to live in an ECHL city. There were regular “cute” stories about how the players lived 3 to an apartment, worked during the offseason, etc. because they made a couple hundred bucks per week during the season, and nothing in the Summer. When you’re in that level of hockey, you are subsisting on love of the game, and the hope of getting a call up and maybe making some real money. If you were truly talented enough to be in that position, you’d probably be there. The quickest way to get a call up, is to be an enforcer. It’s also the quickest way to become a fan favorite and prevent the local team from dropping you.

Guys like Robert Frid did what they had to, what they were asked to do by people who could make his hockey life disappear if he didn’t do what they told him to, starting when he was a minor. Now he’s barely hanging on to life.

Say what you want about AHL/NHL fighting, but in juniors there’s no way it makes any sense to have the levels of fighting that we currently do. Knowing what we know about concussions and CTE, how can we let kids who have not even fully developed beat the hell out of each other?

A career built on fighting takes its toll on a former enforcer