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Growing Evidence of Football Causing Brain Damage

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the could've-told-you-that dept.

Medicine 684

ideonexus writes "NFL Linebacker Junior Seau's suicide this week bears a striking similarity to NFL Safety Dave Duerson's suicide last year, who shot himself in the chest so that doctors could study his brain, where they found the same chronic traumatic encephalopathy that has been found in the brains of 20 other dead football players. Malcom Gladwell stirred up controversy in 2009 by comparing professional football to dog fighting for the trauma the game inflicts on players' brains. With mounting evidence that the repeated concussions football players receive during their careers causing a lifetime of brain problems, it raises serious concerns about America's most popular sport and ethical questions for its fanbase."

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Correlation is not causation (4, Funny)

coldsalmon (946941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881081)

Just because you see a bunch of people who seem brain damaged anywhere there is evidence of football does not mean that you've found "evidence of football causing brain damage."

Re:Correlation is not causation (4, Funny)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881093)

Perhaps only people with brain damage want to play(/watch) football?

Re:Correlation is not causation (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881141)

It certainly took someone with brain damage to come up with the idea of calling the sport "football" in the first place.

Re:Correlation is not causation (4, Informative)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881365)

Why would a game in which the primary method of scoring is to kick a ball with your foot not be called football?

Oh, you're ignoring that the rules changed over the last three centuries or so while the name did not.

Re:Correlation is not causation (4, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881449)

Yep same reason basketball isn't called aerial hoopball.

Re:Correlation is not causation (3, Informative)

gawaino (1191849) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881469)

Or, it was called football because it was played *on foot* as opposed to other games played on horseback.

Re:Correlation is not causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881483)

Hey, whatever it takes to awkwardly force an anti-US sentiment into a conversation, right? Willful ignorance? Hypocritical opinions? Blatantly wrong "facts"? Whatever it takes, mate. Have to keep the stereotype alive somehow.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881143)

Okay. But at the same time a reasonable cause has been identified. Football playing students that are studied throughout a term have their mental performance decline even without concussions.

Both of these imply that there may be serious risks with playing a game where your ram your head against that of another. Perhaps it is time to rethink the value of this game.

Re:Correlation is not causation (2)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881385)

<advocate employer="devil">Or they start putting more effort into the game than into school.</advocate>

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881167)

Well, you could put accelerometers in their helmets and compare it with accelerometers in boxing headgear. You could have a control group that doesn't play either sport but volunteers to experience similar accelerations over a similar timeframe. Or... you could just watch some videos and say, "damn... that's gotta hurt".

Re:Correlation is not causation (5, Informative)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881175)

Did you read the article? It's not just "they have brain damage." It was specifically that they had trauma induced brain damage.

Re:Correlation is not causation (4, Funny)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881191)

Be easy on him. He's an ex-football player...

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881185)

Are you being serious?

There is a well known causal mechanism: everybody knows that football players sustain repeated head injuries. This includes concussive and subconcussive impacts that occur MUCH more frequently than in the general population. Spend a few hours watching an NFL game during the fall and you'll see it.

When you combine that proposed causal mechanism with the observation that a huge percentage of football players have brain damage that is almost never seen in people of that age, you have a damn good case for claiming that playing football has caused the brain damage.

Correlation may not imply causality, but correlation plus a good causal mechanism does.

Re:Correlation is not causation (0)

coldsalmon (946941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881299)

No, I'm joking.

Re:Correlation is not causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881199)

I am beyond weary of people citing the phrase "correlation is not causation" when they offer no other
evidence. It's the equivalent of a burp in conversation. The idiot who writes it probably believes it makes
him sound intelligent, but the truth is that it makes him sound like a trained parrot, which says the same
phrase after being taught to do so.

Re:Correlation is not causation (4, Informative)

coldsalmon (946941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881211)

I apologize for my poorly-worded joke. A literal interpretation of the submission's title seems to indicate that any increase in "evidence of football" causes brain damage. This would explain why football fans appear to be brain damaged, since they are frequently exposed to "evidence of football." I don't actually think that there is a problem establishing causation here.

Re:Correlation is not causation (2)

xevioso (598654) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881213)

And yet, despite your weariness, the phrase is true, and it often needs to be continually pointed out to idiots who believe that correlation is causation.

Re:Correlation is not causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881391)

When I hear a phrase used as a corrective indictment more often than i hear the mistake itself, people need to stop trotting it out for karma.

That, "no true scotsman", and every other logical fallacy that people love to toss out there... usually in response to something that doesn't illustrate it in the first place.

The only thing worse than a smug know-it-all, is a smug know-it-all that's wrong.

Re:Correlation is not causation (5, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881223)

Yeah except they know the cause of long-term brain damage. The brain receives a sudden shock, and connections between neurons "stretch". Like a spring the neurons will gradually return to their normal lengths, but not without consequences.

The stretching leaves behind intracellular damage, and eventually that damage causes the neuron's dendrite to stop producing transmitter chemicals. The neuron then commits suicide (apoptosis). After you lose enough neurons you end-up like these football players and boxers.

So to simplify: Neurons are like springs and when they experience head trauma, they stretch beyond their ability to reheal properly. Then they die.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881251)

(Insert obligatory joke about mental capacity of high school jocks/college atheletes here)

Re:Correlation is not causation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881341)

My daughter is a college athlete. Since she easily has a 30 point IQ advantage over you, what does that say about you?

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881465)

I don't know but what it says about her is that she's probably not an athlete in a sport where the players are expected to take repeated blows to the head every game.

Re:Correlation is not causation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881545)

Taking two dicks in your ass at once is now a sport?

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881275)

Yes, you are right, there's no connection between humongous gladiators smashing into each other hard enough to cause concussions and brain damage. Nosiree.

People have a habit of repeating that correlation does not cause causation, but correlation is often a very obvious indicator of a connection. If a bunch of dead football players with a history of concussions end up having the exact same brain encephalopathy...come on.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881295)

So, I'm not the only one whose first thought on reading the headline was that the research was done on folks who watched it on TV?

Re:Correlation is not causation (5, Interesting)

Catbeller (118204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881477)

You are misusing logic. If we went by that standard, nothing would be responsible for anything.

It is reasonable to assume that thousands of head-on collisions would damage the brain. Even one car crash can cause lifelong tissue damage; imagine what hundreds or thousands do.

That stipulated, you look for evidence. No-one had actually looked before, not really; we're sociologically prone to not look, because we like football. It's like asking people to look for brain damage caused by kneeling to pray to God, and I don't think that's too extreme a comparison.

Evidence was looked for, and found in abundance. Football players who received such shocks to the brain show, post-mortem, significant damage to the tissues. Live players who submit to tests show similar damage to their living brains. Such damage is not normally found in people who do not receive shocks to the brain for a living. It is found in those who do.

At this point, this is a done deal. Throwing people around and suddenly slamming them to a stop causes brain damage resulting in reduced capacity, depression, strange behavior, and eventually, for some, death by repeated trauma.

Now. What do we do about it? Football, American style, is crippling and killing the players. Do we stop? If not, why not? How far does the human delusion go in the face of reality?

Can someone explain to me (5, Insightful)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881083)

Why we need doctors to tell us this? Isn't it pretty obvious that if you get hit in the head a lot, it will cause brain damage?

Re:Can someone explain to me (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881187)

What's new are the long term consequences (sometimes not manifesting until decades later), and the links to depression, domestic violence, and suicide.

I think the NFL has a big problem.

No big surprise (4, Interesting)

danaris (525051) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881537)

The fact that a sport that is basically glorified violence causes mental problems in the participants over the course of time does not come as a huge surprise to me.

In fact, I think that when the country finally wakes up and realizes that the right thing to do is to abandon violent sports like American football, rugby, and hockey (at least, hockey as it is commonly played today) for good, it will be a huge net positive for America and, indeed, for the world.

Dan Aris

Re:Can someone explain to me (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881241)

Yes, but will it cause brain damage?

Re:Can someone explain to me (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881243)

If you need any further evidence, just look at old boxers.

Re:Can someone explain to me (5, Insightful)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881281)

Well, it brings up a lot of interesting questions, like, if these consistent head blows causes serious, lasting brain damage, how do we deal with minors playing the sport? Is it tantamount to neglect if you let your kids play football? (I won't let mine, for this very reason) The south might rise up a second time if we told them no more high school football. That's where studies help. Evidence gives us cause to make decisions.

Re:Can someone explain to me (5, Funny)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881431)

The south might rise up a second time if we told them no more high school football.

If we're lucky. This time around we might be able to let them go.

Re:Can someone explain to me (2)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881317)

Football is a money-making industry. One wonders how much resistance there has been to revealing its true physical consequences.

Re:Can someone explain to me (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881437)

Why we need doctors to tell us this? Isn't it pretty obvious that if you get hit in the head a lot, it will cause brain damage?

There are three things at play:

1. Our understanding of the (sometimes subtle) effects of relatively mild concussions and subconcussive trauma is actually a great deal better now than it was until fairly recently. Being able to view trauma-induced lesions(albeit by postmortem slice-n-stain) is fairly new. It has never been news that dramatic blows to the head will kill and/or disable you good and hard; but the epidemiology of correlating apparently minor ones with risks of a variety of psychological and degenerative conditions over time is tricker.

2. It takes time, if it happens at all, for those pointy-headed 'experts' with their 'evidence' to make it through the wall of popular opinion. Historically, the accepted treatment for most forms of sporting trauma was 'Man up and rub some dirt in it, pussy.' The idea that this might actually be a wildly stupid idea was not an immediate hit.

3. Frequent head trauma is commonly an occupational hazard. Football, boxing, hockey, military service, etc. Shockingly, most industries strongly resist the notion that their employees are being sickened or harmed by the conditions in their workplaces, because that might lead to increased liability, mitigation costs, or even having to shut down. It doesn't help that, in the case of football, much of the treatment of players was handled by team doctors, who have a certain incentive to keep the livestock in the game and producing, and among whom suggestions of serious harm were not a good way to make yourself popular...

Re:Can someone explain to me (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881493)

It isn't so much if it does or does not, because yes obviously knocking your brain around won't help things out.

It is about the type of brain damage one receives, the stereotype was that head injuries make people a little slow, but now it is being found that it makes you severely depressed.

It's one thing to be able to enjoy what you have earned even if you are a little stupid, but it another thing when you cannot enjoy life.

Serves them Right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881095)

All this high school football hero worship has led to children running head first into brain damage.

It's a little hard to tell since most football players are so dumb to begin with, but the evidence is there.

Football and brain damage go together like football players and uneducated skanks.

Lol (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881111)

But how else can I fill my empty life if I can no longer watch football! Hoo-rah! 'We' won the game! *high 5s* *chugs beer*

well...no shit..... (4, Insightful)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881113)

and with the millions of dollars they are paid, how many of them donated to research? Football is modern day gladiator fighting, they are paid to kill each other on the field of battle, not to tickle each other. this is a job hazard and you have have to accept that, if it wasn't you wouldn't be paid as much.

Re:well...no shit..... (1)

JackPepper (1603563) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881515)

The 'no shit' will continue with soccer players' brains next.

I feel like society wants me to feel bad for these men playing a child's game for millions of dollars. To me the football brain damage 'revelation' is similar to the 'revelation' that smoking isn't good for you and may cause cancer.

Re:well...no shit..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881521)

Many of the old timers are suing the league. Until the '80s, NFL players weren't paid shit.

As for today, the league itself actually has been donating a lot to brain research in the past few years.

What about all the high school and college football players who never make the pros?

Re:well...no shit..... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881523)

Actually [nytimes.com] some donate more than others.

Historically, the official line substantially underrepresented the risks of head trauma. As knowledge of the area has grown, an increasing number of players have been putting themselves on the list for inclusion in the brain bank at the BU Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy [bu.edu] ... The chap who deliberately shot himself in the chest, rather than the head, to preserve his neural tissue for research is a somewhat extreme example of the phenomenon...

That's Not Really Fair (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881531)

and with the millions of dollars they are paid, how many of them donated to research?

What? I don't understand why I need to pay for research when my employer endangers me. Example:

and with the millions of dollars coal miners were paid, how many of them donated to research? Coal mining is modern day pyramid building, they are paid to sacrifice their bodies so the industrial revolution can push us forward, not to be coddled. this is a job hazard and you have have to accept that, if it wasn't you wouldn't be paid as much.

There are over one thousand lawsuits by former football players against the league [go.com] . This was covered by NPR a while ago, and it sounds like players are saying "I got hit here, in this game. I had X symptoms. Coach told me I didn't need to see the medical professional because he needed me back in the game. I now experience Y long term ailments." Regardless of the amount they are each paid, this could be compared to mesothelioma from asbestos exposure while installing installation. The NFL has deep pockets, let these players have their day in court.

Check out Shanahan's suspensions of NHL players [nhl.com] . I will tell you right now that this is the NHL attempting to wash their own hands of similar liabilities. Three hockey players killed themselves very recently.

Look, in Roman times, people used to die building the aqueducts ... that doesn't mean we accept deaths when companies build dams to service communities. We have technology, engineering, medicine, etc to help us be better than that. We're better than we were thousands of years ago. We don't need the gladiators to die anymore. The NFL is making bank off these players -- even after the players themselves are all millionaires that squander their money within a few years of the end of their career. The courts will decide what liability the NFL must assume.

Re:well...no shit..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881535)

these are the definition of lay people. They do not understand that there is an increased risk. Our society is ethically obligated to at least make them more aware.

I remember those guys from high school (3, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881115)

The football players particularly. Some of them weren't so smart in their senior year or after graduation. At the time, we made fun of them, which in retrospect kind of sucks. They may have been hostile, bullying and overly aggressive, but brain damage isn't something I'd wish on anyone.

Re:I remember those guys from high school (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881215)

Oh, yeah... those guys. If I was going to wish evil on any one...

How long... (1)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881119)

I wonder how long is it going to take before this turns into a "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" debate.

Re:How long... (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881327)

Three minutes.

The problem solves itself... (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881123)

People with brain cells to lose will avoid this component failure mode anyway. Now please excuse me while I'm destroying my brain with programming.

What you say? (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881125)

Repeated concussions cause brain damage? You don't say!

Oh, wait, this was always obvious, but American football makes a lot of $$$ so...

drain bramage (-1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881131)

In Soviet Russia...

Football? (-1, Flamebait)

Rakshasa-sensei (533725) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881133)

I was confused reading the summary, wondering how football could cause head trauma from the few times the ball and head was in contact...

Turns out it's that weird wrestling / handball game they play in the US.

Re:Football? (1)

SeanDS (1039000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881235)

I wonder if they've checked for evidence of brain damage present from birth in people that play that pointless sport... trolololol

Re:Football? (1)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881255)

I think you might want to re-evaluate your comment, I am pretty sure I've read articles where football players (the soccer kind) had issues as well (although maybe not as severe) due to the large amount of headers that are required in certain roles

Re:Football? (2)

slapyslapslap (995769) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881297)

Turns out it's that weird wrestling / handball game they play in the US.

Well, that's about the creepiest description of American Football I've ever seen...ewww.

Re:Football? (2)

pipatron (966506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881377)

Turns out it's that weird wrestling / hand egg game they play in the US.

FTFY

Re:Football? (1)

lajoyce (1074817) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881403)

And yet the first two words of the summary were "NFL Linebacker"...

Kids shouldn't be playing (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881135)

I've told this to people but they always say not to worry. I think any sport where you get beat-up is bad, and for what purpose? I can't put "I played 4 years football" on my resume; it doesn't offer any long term value.

Re:Kids shouldn't be playing (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881257)

It proves that you'r not soft-headed... oh wait-

Re:Kids shouldn't be playing (1)

BootysnapChristAlive (2629837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881419)

It's fun to some people. If they want to take that risk, I'm not going to stop them. I guess I just don't think about the children enough...

Re:Kids shouldn't be playing (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881539)

correcting myself:

I can't put "I played 4 years football" on my resume; it doesn't offer any long term value (but it does cause long-term brain damage from repeated hits).

Re:Kids shouldn't be playing (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881553)

I can't put "I played 4 years football" on my resume; it doesn't offer any long term value.

No, but it does explain a few things. ;)

This is what they get paid for (0)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881137)

Any Football player that gets into the sport should know the risks involved. When your job is to play a full-contact sport, injuries happen. That's why they get multi-million dollar contracts. Their safety gear is all excellent, but even the best protection does not prevent every injury. Nobody is forcing them to play the game. They can walk away at any time. They can sit behind a desk at ESPN and make jokes. They can buy a log cabin and live like a hermit.

Re:This is what they get paid for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881237)

Yeah, that's nice. I don't think people are particularly worried about millionaire former football players. What we are worried about are the millions of high school and college kids who are suffering these injuries. These people suffer brain damage and our society is harmed because of it.

Re:This is what they get paid for (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881451)

Nobody makes them play football. They can watch TV and play Madden all year. If they want to put themselves at risk, let them.

Re:This is what they get paid for (5, Insightful)

Translation Error (1176675) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881325)

Any Football player that gets into the sport should know the risks involved. When your job is to play a full-contact sport, injuries happen. That's why they get multi-million dollar contracts. Their safety gear is all excellent, but even the best protection does not prevent every injury. Nobody is forcing them to play the game. They can walk away at any time.

Your first sentence is exactly why research like this is necessary. Prospective football players have every right to know exactly what they'll be risking if they play. And while no one is forcing them to play, the US does have a policy of banning certain activities for the detrimental effects on willing participants.

Re:This is what they get paid for (1)

BootysnapChristAlive (2629837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881439)

And while no one is forcing them to play, the US does have a policy of banning certain activities for the detrimental effects on willing participants.

Yeah, we really need to stop doing that.

Re:This is what they get paid for (1)

Kincaidia (927521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881345)

No, this isn't what they get paid for - or we'd have gladiatorial, "to the death" type spectacles. And this affects HIGH SCHOOL students, not just paid athletes. Accidental risk vs systemic risk are two entirely different beasts.

Re:This is what they get paid for (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881417)

They don't know the long term effects. That's the point of research.

But you know what you pissant? They are forcing me to pay for the fucking sport. TV providers increase our rates everytime ESPN, NBC, FOX, CBS jacks up their rates because the NFL gets them into a bidding war.

So you know what, we are all part of the problem.

Ass-hole.

Wrestlers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881139)

You see the same thing with professional wrestlers. Chris Benoit's murder-suicide was partly blamed on brain damage from years of traumatic head injuries, as well as steroid use - something else that is probably pretty common among the ranks of football players.

All good (5, Funny)

Chillas (144627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881205)

Regardless, football remains a normal, healthy, wholesome activity. Video games, on the other hand, still turn out maladjusted serial killers.

Re:All good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881277)

Regardless, football remains a normal, healthy, wholesome activity. Video games, on the other hand, still turn out maladjusted serial killers.

Video games apparently also cause "hilarious" comments on Slashdot.

Re:All good (1)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881461)

Hey, correlation is not causation.

Re:All good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881435)

What about Madden?

From what I've seen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881219)

Watching football also causes brain damage.

Just to be clear... (2, Informative)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881233)

We'r talking about the rugby-like football here, not the one kindly called soccer on that other continent.

Re:Just to be clear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881361)

I would think that if the NFL instituted a "no tackling above the shoulders" rule like actual rugby there would be far fewer concussions. That, and the sport would be back to "tackle" football, as opposed to "knock the other player out of the game because I play for the New Orleans Saints" football.

In Minnesota (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881245)

We're about to spend $1 billion dollars to expand the Vikings stadium from 65,000 to 65,500. I'd call that brain damaged.

An easy fix. (4, Insightful)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881249)

The solution is obvious, remove all padding.

Re:An easy fix. (3, Insightful)

readandburn (825014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881467)

If the NFL went back to the type of padding/helmets they had just 20 years ago the players wouldn't be doing this damage to one another. The "armor" has evolved substantially over that time to minimize (cause?) damage, but humans have not.

Re:An easy fix. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881475)

They certainly wouldn't hit each other quite as hard. Unless they are trying to hurt themselves.

Re:An easy fix. (4, Insightful)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881487)

This makes more sense than you'd think. Boxing injuries and deaths /increase/ when you add gloves, the reason being that hands, unprotected, can't take much more punishment than a face before the brain stops letting you use them. Protected, however, all that energy gets transmitted to the brain and the hands don't take any damage.

Re:An easy fix. (3, Informative)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881557)

The solution is obvious, remove all padding.

You mean like they do in other parts of the world with Australian Rules Football [wikipedia.org] or Rugby [wikipedia.org] or Gaelic Football [wikipedia.org] ?
 
Different codes, but no padding and no separate teams for offensive and defensive, and the ball is in play for the entire match, not for a fraction of the time in American Football. I'd guess that the specialized American Footballers couldn't survive another code, yet there is a steady flow of Australian Footballers into America.

Untrue, I say! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881253)

I've been playing football for years, and I hardly have any potato.

Football - Concussions - Brain Injury (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881261)

It's well established that sports like football and hockey have a higher incidence of concussions than other sports like Basketball or even Baseball

It's also well established a severe concussion or multiple concussions can lead to brain injury.

The new factor that the traumatic brain injury research is leading towards is brain damage not simply being caused by concussions but repetitive jarring impact (like a boxer being punch drunk)

This cbc short documentary talks about traumatic brain injury (with a focus on hockey but football is just as applicable):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krdSK8_O0vo

Unclear summary.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881267)

Is the summary implying that you get brain damage by playing football?

I thought it was enough if you watched it..

This is the biggest challenge facing football (4, Insightful)

John3 (85454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881283)

The long term effect of repeated blows to the head is IMHO the biggest issue facing contact sports, especially (American/Canadian) football and ice hockey. Based on the growing body of research it appears that the the sports are inherently unsafe as they are currently played. Football is the number 1 spectator sport in America, so you can bet the NFL does not want to change too much, and yet they are now being sued by former players [washingtonpost.com] who have suffered concussions during their career. How can the sport be changed to protect the players? Helmet technology will likely continue to improve, but enough to protect from brain damage with repeated hits? Does the NFL become the NTFL (National Touch Football League)? Do we still have linemen block to protect the quarterback, or do pass rushers count to four-Mississippi before rushing?

Hockey does not seem to be as plagued as football, and eliminating fighting would prevent a lot of injuries as the basic game does not lead to as much trauma to the head as football. Possibly the biggest question for all sports is what the future may hold if parents keep their children off the playing fields. That's something that will be gradual but I expect that the pool of available talent will start to dwindle as the smarter and more talented athletes choose safer career paths (baseball, investment banking?) and only the desperate take chances with their future sanity and health.

The solution is simple, though counterintuitive. (2)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881289)

Get rid of helmets.

Re:The solution is simple, though counterintuitive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881463)

OHHH good idea! I get it now. I had to think about that. Then their brain damage is so severe that they die from it and not have to worry about living with brain damage! Great idea!!! Then us /.ers can have their wives/girlfriends!

yeah, surrreee, brain damage eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881301)

Next you're gonna say riding roller coasters causes brain damage, or banging my head against this wall right here when I can't think of the best way to code something... yeah, yeah...

America's Most Popular Sport (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881315)

Isn't football.
It's NASCAR.

Fighting the wrong fight. (2)

LordStormes (1749242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881343)

The NFL needs to set aside a SUSBTANTIAL of their $9 billion cash flow to researching better helmets. I don't mean moderate improvements. I'm talking about something that can wick away nearly all of the impact force to other parts of the body. This is the single biggest existential threat to the game, and it has got to be resolved.

Re:Fighting the wrong fight. (2)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881481)

Won't happen. It's been proven that in the NHL at least, the more armour you give the players, the more risks they take AND the harder they hit. Better helmets won't help the NFL or the players without rendering them immobile. Unless you take away all contact, there's very little to be done.

Ethical questions for the fanbase? (1)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881351)

Those ethical questions would be what exactly?

RIP jr. (5, Interesting)

kencurry (471519) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881367)

Seau was a great person AND a great football player. He did a lot for kids in our community. He was well-known for his intensity and charm; it is so sad that he was feeling down with no way out and this is the result. Rest in peace.

... and college football now makes even less sense (4, Insightful)

wanderfowl (2534492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881399)

Hopefully this is a nail in the coffin for College Football. The fact that playing the sport is now seen to be damaging to the mind and brain at the basest levels should quell some of the "We're turning out well-balanced scholars, fit in body and mind" that advocates are spouting. Colleges need football teams like fish need bicycles, and universities of all sorts should be the last institutions encouraging this.

News! (2)

connor4312 (2608277) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881409)

The world is even more shocked by a followup story:

Guys who make a living running into walls have brain damage!

wow (1)

x0d (2506794) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881411)

I knew it all along! My brain goes numb just by watching it.

Football (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881505)

But..but...this is FOOTBALL? I thought this was News for Nerds?!?

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