This is not a “nuclear” question or statement, it is an observation – brought to the forefront by Irv Muchnick of BeyondChron. Irv has the ability to write and raise questions that many do not want to address nor face, but he does make you think if you take the time to read. As I heard a wise man once tell me; “read and listen to all sides even if you don’t agree”. There are many reasons for this I have gathered over time, but the most important is that others seem to provoke more thoughts and further information.
Today Irv posted an editorial about how he thinks our children are now the subject of trial and error in the realm of concussions;
The toothpaste of “concussion awareness” is out of the tube, oozing like spinal fluid. When all the solutions have been implemented and (mostly not) paid for, more or less the same critical mass of bad outcomes will happen anyway. These include, silently, insidiously, the killing of brain tissue over time. And if I happen to be exaggerating a tad, who among us really want to volunteer their sons for the next generation of guinea pigs in the “control groups” of NFL-underwritten “peer-reviewed literature”?
Yes, football promotes some good values, such as teamwork and community. So does the marching band. So does the school drama group. So do basketball, volleyball, and crew, not to mention math study gangs. (Oops, that last example was a rhetorical mistake – it exposes me, once and for all, as a “pussy.”) Let’s seek our bonding opportunities elsewhere, and let’s leave the risks and astronomical preventive and medical costs to private clubs catering to the genuinely elite, the unambiguously professionally tracked jocks.
Think about it for one second, Irv is logistically correct here. If we only talk about football – however we should all know that every sport can produce concussions – there are only 1,700 players in the NFL about 500,000 players in college and another 3.5-4.5 million playing high school or lower level football. In terms of exposure what level represents the best chance for concussion “research”.
Our very valuable commenter Concerned Mom chimed in as well;
Great article by Muchnick. I had just been watching Dr. Ledy’s webinar before reading it, and can’t help but agree with Muchnick that we’re basically using our youth in experiments similar to those conducted with lab animals. Dr. Ledy mentioned that rats or other lab animals are concussed and then various measurements are taken to see how their brains respond and in some cases to determine what if any impact exercise has on blood flow and healing.
At this time, we know that concussive and subconcussive hits sustained in football can result in brain damage and the development of degenerative diseases, and that brain trauma in developing brains is especially concerning. So, what we’re doing with our youth who play football, is essentially continuing to expose them to concussive and subconcussive hits until we’re able to determine exactly how many hits are too many along with the genetic characteristics that predispose individuals to poor outcomes (now of course we’re not insisting on full disclosure of the risks to parents or players, because that would just be too great a burden to place on youth leagues, and we certainly wouldn’t want to increase their exposure to liability).
Eventually, over a period of years or decades, we’ll learn how much exposure is too much and the best approaches for concussion management and return to play. Unfortunately some of the children and teens currently playing are going to end up permanently impaired, subject to a degenerative disease, or dead. I guess they and their families can rest assured knowing that with time for further research, education and training we hope to be able to eventually fix the problems which resulted in their life long impairments or deaths.
The debate is just now heating up with whether football should continue for younger players. There have been non-scientific ages suggested as to when full tackle football is OK. I have been one that says 14 or freshman year of high school is where it should begin, like Dr. Cantu. Dr. Omalu has stated that “juveniles” should not be exposed and Matt Chaney says younger than college is too early. Regardless of where you stand any change to current set up is going to cause major consternation from all sorts of entities: USAFootball, Equipment Makers, NFL, JFL, etc.
I don’t know where everyone stands in the debate, but I can tell you unequivocally that if you want football as we know it to continue in the programs younger than college you better have an athletic trainer and check with the rising rates of insurance. Because the truth of the matter is that our youth are the guinea pigs.