Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Footbal Ethical Dilemma: To watch or not to watch

Another football season has started, and my dilemma returns: whether to watch my beloved FL Gators and Miami Dolphins or whether to give up supporting the game which turns young men's brains to mush.

Adrian Johnson had barely became an adult, only 25 years old, and his brain had aged before its time.  Collisions perhaps for 3 years in junior high school,  also 3 years in high school, and 3 to 4 in college expose young men's brains to the threat of repeated concussions or simply repeated blows to the head, the forces behind the diagnoses of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

For a young man to have developed that condition by age 25 should give pause to football officials at every level, plus we dedicated fans who support the games with passion and mucho dinero, tons of money.

But we fans love watching our modern gladiators do battle on a football field.  Hell, crucify a few christians and ancient Romans would feel right at home watching our gladiatorial contests.  Yet in America today, guess we'd have to crucify some Muslims to satisfy right wing blood lust and our time travelling Romans, making them feel right at home

[HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A former NFL lineman from Pennsylvania who killed himself at 25 had a brain disease that has been linked to repeated blows to the head, researchers confirmed Wednesday.

Adrian Robinson Jr.'s diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy was confirmed through officials at a brain bank at Boston University.

Family lawyer Ben Andreozzi said that Robinson had several concussions during two seasons in the league.

Robinson, of Harrisburg, played for Temple University in Philadelphia before playing for Pittsburgh, Denver and San Diego.

"He went from being one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to talk to, to having a darker edge at times," Andreozzi said. "The family started noticing changes in his behavior, and didn't know why."]  emphasis added

[Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University have now identified the degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in 96 percent of NFL players that they’ve examined and in 79 percent of all football players. The disease is widely believed to stem from repetitive trauma to the head, and can lead to conditions such as memory loss, depression and dementia.

In total, the lab has found CTE in the brain tissue in 131 out of 165 individuals who, before their deaths, played football either professionally, semi-professionally, in college or in high school.

Forty percent of those who tested positive were the offensive and defensive linemen who come into contact with one another on every play of a game, according to numbers shared by the brain bank with FRONTLINE. That finding supports past research suggesting that it’s the repeat, more minor head trauma that occurs regularly in football that may pose the greatest risk to players, as opposed to just the sometimes violent collisions that cause concussions.

But the figures come with several important caveats, as testing for the disease can be an imperfect process. Brain scans have been used to identify signs of CTE in living players, but the disease can only be definitively identified posthumously. As such, many of the players who have donated their brains for testing suspected that they had the disease while still alive, leaving researchers with a skewed population to work with.

Even with those caveats, the latest numbers are “remarkably consistent” with past research from the center suggesting a link between football and long-term brain disease, said Dr. Ann McKee, the facility’s director and chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System.

“People think that we’re blowing this out of proportion, that this is a very rare disease and that we’re sensationalizing it,” said McKee, who runs the lab as part of a collaboration between the VA and BU. “My response is that where I sit, this is a very real disease. We have had no problem identifying it in hundreds of players.”]

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