OT: Junior Seau suffered CTE, is football too dangerous?

Submitted by ak47 on January 10th, 2013 at 11:10 PM

So CTE is chronic brain damage and can be caused by repeated blows to the head as small as what a typical OL or DLinmen go through on every play.  I ask this because the typical argument is that these guys are getting paid millions of dollars and are making a decision.  I have two problems with this argument: 1) This sort of damage is accumulated over a lifetime, plenty of youth football players could easily be permanently damaging their brains with no real knowledge of the dangers and we probably never hear about their health issues. 2) Football is borderline exploitive.  The number of professional football players from disadvantaged backgrounds is disproportianetly high.  For a lot of these players something like football is the only way out of a bad neighberhood. The choice between a potentially short life in poverty where statistics say there is a greater than 50% you are  going to be dead or in jail by 50 or football where you could damage your brain for life by 35 does not seem like a legitimate choice.

I'm not sure how I feel about football right now but I know the billions of dollars it generates is going to keep players futrue health low on the priority list.  The board seemed kind of slow and I thought this could be a legitimate discussion. If people don't think so I apologize.



January 10th, 2013 at 11:31 PM ^

That wasn't my point, I'm saying there is a trend and its worth considering when looking at footballs impact. I'm not calling for an end of football but there are suggestions for changing the culture of it, don't allow contact in youth football, take away helmets/pads (there are less concussions in rugby) and others.


January 11th, 2013 at 4:17 AM ^

Considering that Smoking causes lung cancer but tobacco is a multi billion dollar industry. The best they have come up with is you cant smoke around other folks inside.

 Football players already cant hit people who dont play football...... this research money could be spent better elsewhere


January 11th, 2013 at 8:47 AM ^

This. Also, everyone has always known you could break your neck playing football. It happens to dozens of players every year (including a kid at Pioneer in 1995 i think). Also, I had a great uncle who played in the NFL in the 50s and his body was messed up. How is this different?


January 11th, 2013 at 8:18 AM ^

I didn't see it as saving poor people from themselves and I am sorry if it read that way, it was more a commentary that those who are born with less are going to be willing to take risks that mortgage their future more.  I just think its easy for advantaged and people with knowledge about the issues to sit there and say "they" (being footbal players) know exactly what they are getting into and have tons of other good options moving forward when I don't think either of those statements are true.


January 11th, 2013 at 10:49 AM ^

They are willing to take those risks that "mortgage their future" because the risks are still a better option than their alternatives.

Football should do everything reasonable to limit brain damage. But if brain damage from football is a better option than a lifetime stuck in a culture of crime and poverty, well, I see that as an argument against crime and poverty, not football.

Section 1

January 11th, 2013 at 12:17 AM ^

Get rid of the NFL.  Those guys are playing another 20 weeks per year, times five, ten or fifteen years.  Knocking each other's brains out.  The biggest and fastest and the strongest of the strong.  Propelling one helmet into the other, all for the benefit of NFL Films and the billion-dollar tv contracts.

Ban the NFL.  Cut college football to a ten-week season with one bowl game.  Players quit playing football after they turn 21/22/whatever.  Let's give that plan a try, and then see how many football CTE cases there are.

It would only do great things for college football.  Players would see their degree as their main prize.  Athletes into sports for the money can go play baseball or basketball; fine with me.

Hell; some of the most prized football scholarships might then be Harvard, Princeton, Yale... and Michigan.

I am being absolutely serious when I say that I HATE what the NFL does to football.


January 11th, 2013 at 8:28 AM ^

with the notion that adults should be able to choose, as long as information on negative affects is freely available, (which it is, plus the fact that common sense tells you bashing your head against another guys is dangerous), to choose to do dangerous things that the rest of us may or may not think is crazy? If every single potential danger out there is 100% true, and even if worse information comes out in the future, that changes my position not one single bit--free adults can choose to be as dangerous with their bodies as they like, period.

I don't like the NFL either, but wouldn't dream of enforcing that preference on others.


January 11th, 2013 at 4:38 PM ^

so the argument doesn't work as well there.

To be clear, I am fine with the NFL players deciding for themselves with as much information as possible whether or not to play. It's college and below that worries me. UofM football players aren't "fairly compensated" in the same way NFL players are (no long-term health care coverage, for starters), and in some cases aren't adults (pick whichever measure of adulthood you like).

The available evidence is getting to the point where I'm unwilling to pass along my appreciation for football to my son, because I don't want him to play a sport with that kind of potential long-term consequences.


January 10th, 2013 at 11:19 PM ^

Coal mining is a pretty dangerous profession, and it's just as exploitive when in many coal towns it's just about the only employment available. Working on fishing boats is extremely hazardous, and I suspect there aren't too many children of doctors working on fishing boats either. 

I Like Burgers

January 10th, 2013 at 11:26 PM ^

Yes coal mining and crab fishing and axe juggling are all dangerous professions.  But they are all jobs you choose to do as an adult.  The difference with football is that you start playing the game as a kid.  No one is in a coal mine or crab fishing when they are 9 years old.  Sure you can opt out before you reach college, but by then you can have already caused long term mental and physical issues.

Its a valid question to ask as more and more information comes out about the long term mental and phyiscal risks of football (and there's plenty out there already), will parents prevent their kids from playing football?


January 10th, 2013 at 11:31 PM ^

but by then you can have already caused long term mental and physical issues.

You do? I'm glad your research is so far ahead of the rest of the scientific community's. Cause from what I've read, they don't really know anything. It's correlation based on limited data right now. They certianly don't seem to know progression.

I Like Burgers

January 10th, 2013 at 11:52 PM ^

That was more of a general comment about football being dangerous.  There are plenty of  stories about kids getting paralyzed or dying from playing football.  Take for instance second impact syndrome.  That's an issue that's specifically a problem for young kids playing contact sports and it can lead to death.  That seems like a pretty long term bad case to me.


January 10th, 2013 at 11:33 PM ^

I was under the impression that this was a discussion about how the developments with Junior Seau affect this conversation. Seau's issues weren't caused by his time playing as a 9 year old. I don't have numbers for CTE rates among High School and College players, so I don't have much to add to this conversation. Without knowing the numbers either way I disagree with you. I am open to changing my mind, though.

I Like Burgers

January 10th, 2013 at 11:47 PM ^

There are no such thing as CTE rates because the research into it is still very new, and the only way to actually get diagnosed with CTE is to donate your brain to one of the groups studying it.

In general, they think that CTE is caused by concussions or sub-concussions in people that are subjected to repeated head trauma.  Youth football players, high school players, and college players all get concussions and sub-concussions.  So, yes Seau's time playing as a 9 year old all through his time as a pro count.  Every hit to the head counts.

One Inch Woody…

January 10th, 2013 at 11:41 PM ^

While CTE can indeed stem from playing football, what is not known is the circumstances required to reach irreversible levels, and its true prevalence.

It is clear that playing in the NFL is quite dangerous, but is playing in pop warner, middle school, high school, and ncaa as dangerous? There are probably millions of people that have gone through everything including high school football and have come out as perfectly fine individuals without any significant mental issues related to brain trauma. There are probably tens of thousands of similar individuals that have gone through ncaa football and have been perfectly fine in the head department.

I think something about the speed and strength of the NFL and athletes in the league is what is causing these concussions and brain injury. There's no reason to stop signing your kids up for pop warner football though, as there have probably been millions of other kids over the past 20 years that have done the same thing and are fully functioning individuals now.

One Inch Woody…

January 11th, 2013 at 12:42 AM ^

So what are you talking about then? The NFL is a "lifetime of football" .. the vast majority of people are done by 18, and the vast majority of those remaining are done by 22. I don't think there's any question that you can get injured in vastly more severe ways by playing in a league where EVERYONE is an aggressive, huge, and fast human being.

Brown Bear

January 11th, 2013 at 8:26 AM ^

Brain trauma doesn't need to be 250 lb dudes smashing for it to happen. If anything at the youth level and high school levels jt is worse as the players don't have proper body control, fundamentals, coaching and diagnosis of head trauma due to lack of trained personnel to diagnose.

French West Indian

January 11th, 2013 at 10:21 AM ^

We should probably be asking why children are not allowed to work in coal mines or crab fishing. 

One would think that a nine year old would be able to crawl into tighter spaces within the coal mines than any grown adult and be able to come out with some extra handfuls of coal.

And coal mines are clearly more important to the economy and greater public good than football (at least more important than youth football).  If we are going to sacrifice children then this should be the way.

Also, lastly, if the kids could make some money working in coal mines then they might not feel compelled to wreck their brains in a hopeless effort trying to make the NFL.


January 10th, 2013 at 11:20 PM ^

He played middle linebacker for 15+ years with reckless abandon. It's sad that he had this, and concussions are a bad thing, but it comes with the territory. We know what we are getting into when we decide to play football.


January 10th, 2013 at 11:33 PM ^

In terms of the physical dangers I think that is true but most of the information about long term brain damage is more recent and I think its a mistake to think that a lot of 10 year old kids are aware of what long term brain damage really means and a lot of parents who still aren't educated on the subject.


January 11th, 2013 at 5:20 AM ^

when the players said they knew what they are getting themselves into, I really wonder if they do. No one knows what the avg lifespan of the players currently playing in the NFL, or what the incidence rate is for extreme mental disease or severe physical dehabilitation. 

And the scary part is, do you think Seau would have thought he was going to blow himself away a mere years after retiring bc of the damage sustained from the NFL?

The issues with football are severe, and I don't see any way of correcting them. Does that mean we should ban it? Probably not. The only thing I know is I will not let my kids play football. IF other parents are ok with that, that's fine with me. But lets bury that statement 'we know what we are getting into'.


January 11th, 2013 at 9:18 AM ^

When you're playing a game in which you make contact virtually every play and use your head to tackle, you're telling me some people don't know that you could end up with brain damage? It seems pretty obvious that there will be some injuries to your head, especially when you play like Seau did.


January 10th, 2013 at 11:20 PM ^

Right, because the ONLY choices are to either make it rich in football or die trying. 

They couldn't work hard at school and earn a scholarship, or work hard at a job and move up the blue collar ladder, or work hard at a job and move up the white collar ladder, or learn a skill/trade and open up a small business with a grant from the gov't.

Sorry, that just rubbed me the wrong way and wanted to voice my opinion.

However, as to football as a whole and the impact it has on an individual I sort of agree with you. The money is very top heavy and the people that lose the most (IMO) are highschoolers and younger. The kids, in highschool football and lower, that don't make it really put their bodies on the line and we hear stories every year about some high school kid who either died or had permanent damage done.

I am currently undecided on those in college with full scholarships, and the NFL. So I will not voice my opinion on that matter. 

Other than the "choice" thing, good thread good discussion topic.


January 11th, 2013 at 12:17 AM ^

Alright so disadvantaged people in the op and your post are the poor. Am I correct? Assuming I am then who represents the United States poor?

The US Census declared that in 2010 15.1% of the general population lived in poverty:
9.9% of all non-Hispanic white persons
12.1% of all Asian persons
26.6% of all Hispanic persons (of any race)
27.4% of all black persons

Note how this is heavily skewed towards Hispanic and Black people. So when you speak of "they" you are referring to more of one group than another. So yes I take offense to your comments.


January 11th, 2013 at 8:46 AM ^

There would have to have been a slight mention of race for this to be right. This person gets upset at the use of third person plural personal pronouns.

But the comment he got mad about was pretty delusional--the best way to make it in this country in this decade is not to work hard, but rather to be born to rich parents. Just look at the data on social mobility and you'll see that.


January 11th, 2013 at 10:46 AM ^

I'm not sure if you realize but what that poster was saying is very racially motivated. Although he blatantly did not say anything about race, speech like that is used to refer to race under the guise of referring to something else. Not to mention he basically said that all disadvantaged people don't want to work to ameliorate their lives


January 10th, 2013 at 11:43 PM ^

I don't want to get into a long discussion with you on mgoblog about it because this isn't the place but there is a theory that an undercaste exists in the United States.  An undercaste is defined as a group that is so removed from the rest of society economically and through other measures that no amount of hard work can raise them up the socioeconomic ladder.  Obviously there would be exceptions, there were succesful black men and women during jim crow that didn't mean that was the norm.  I happen to believe this theory but like I said this isn't really the place for this discussion and wasn't the point of my bringing up the point.  I just thought it was a trend and something worth discussing when considering the impact of football in society and who is generally taking the risk.