TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

July 26, 2017 — An indictment

It’s said that any unfortunate event, if it happens once, is a tragedy. It it happens twice, it’s a coincidence, and if it happens three times, it’s a trend.

So, what it if happens 110 out of 111 times?

Those are the findings of a Boston University study of the brains of former NFL players whose bodies were made available for the study of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition linked to multiple concussions.

The results were published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and is believed to be the largest study of its kind, covering more than 200 separate subjects.

Mind you, the subjects are the variable group; all of them were selected into the group as having tackle football as the primary exposure to head trauma. Now, the 110 people in question are all NFL players, from journeymen to Hall-of-Famer Ken Stabler. The larger group of 200 features players from college and high school as well as their NFL bretheren. Of the larger group, 90 percent showed CTE in their brains.

This is a devastating finding, one which could affect a significant portion of the U.S. economy. Imagine, for example, an $11 billion professional league — one of the largest on the planet — having to close up shop. That would mean a loss of business for many industries including the poultry business, which benefits from high demand for chicken wings the weekend of the Super Bowl.

Imagine a national sanctioning body having one of its two golden geese flying away. This would mean the NCAA would have to perhaps turn its attention to other activities such as baseball, women’s basketball, and perhaps even lacrosse to stay in business.

Imagine the knock-on effect for equipment manufacturers of everything from helmets to jerseys to yard markers. There would also be a drop in demand for even small items such as mouth guards and water bottles.

And finally, imagine how much taxpayer money is tied up in football stadia nationwide, whether at U.S. college or for the benefit of exactly eight NFL games every fall. I think an NFL collapse will make municipalities take a pause before building another palatial building for a billionaire owner.

Of course, it has not escaped the notice of the people who run football that something needs to be done. The NFL has pushed flag football for kids rather than the Pop Warner variety. A number of 7-on-7 passing leagues have sprung up across the country, limiting padding and enforcing “wrap-up” tackling rules borrowed from rugby.

I do wonder, however, how much this news is going to further affact participation in the intercollegiate game.

 

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