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CTE: Is Football Worth It?

One of America’s favorite pastime is finally upon us. Yup, football season is here and ready to take over our Sundays. This means endless conversations about favorite teams, who the best quarterback in the NFL is, and who is going to be in the Super Bowl come February. But the conversations don’t stop there.

A new study published by medical journal JAMA, discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in more than 99 percent of deceased NFL players’ brains. The researchers detected CTE in 110 of the 111 brains that were donated. Aside from the brains of former NFL players, CTE was also found in 48 of 53 college players and three of 14 high school players. That is extremely alarming and frightening; this is a major issue.

CTE is a degenerative brain condition linked to repetitive hits to the head. It is found mostly in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive head trauma. In CTE, a protein called Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain and starts killing brain cells.

It’s safe to say with all the constant hits these football players endure, whether on a professional or collegiate level, some sort of head injury should be expected. But not to this magnitude.

The study showed that 56% of the college players that were examined had severe CTE, with symptoms similar to those among the NFL players. The three high school players and the remaining 44% of the college players with CTE had mild cases. Developing CTE comes with severe mood and behavioral symptoms such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or attempts, and explosive anger.

This is something that can’t and shouldn’t be ignored just because one loves to play the sport. That raises the question, is football worth gambling with young adults’ brains who haven’t even finished developing yet?

The earlier a child starts playing football, the higher the risk is of this happening. Should we subject our kids, little brothers, nephews, and cousins to that? The answer for some is yes. If it’s something they’re passionate about, why not allow them to follow that dream? Who are we to say they can’t?

Awareness is the most important factor here.

We need to take the blinders off, open our eyes and start paying attention. Quite frankly, football in its current state isn’t safe. I’m not saying don’t play football, but we need to educate ourselves on all the cons that come along with the pros of playing this sport.

There needs to either be a reassessment of the rules where it brings forth change or some way of figuring out a better way to protect these players. An aggressive stance must be taken because football isn’t going anywhere. These football players are husbands, fathers, brothers, and uncles. Therefore, we need to do everything in our power to make sure they live a healthy and normal life.

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About Shekera Clarke

My name is Shekera Clarke. I am currently a senior at the University at Albany majoring in journalism with a business minor. I grew up in Queens, NY. QGTM! My goals upon graduating include either writing for a pop culture magazine/blog or work for ESPN because of my love for sports - whether that's behind the scenes or on air.

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