The sport of football has gained the reputation of being violent and has always been dominated by muscular men. One of the main characteristics in football is the act of tackling, which can lead to many concussions. The disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is the consequence of repeated blows to the head in sports like football. When CTE was discovered by the Nigerian- American physician and well respected neuropathologist Bennet Omalu, it was met with harsh criticisms from NFL supporters and even the NFL.
CTE can cause severe headaches and dementia which may lead to poor decision making by these patients. When CTE was first introduced, the NFL was questioned on how they were handling the situation and what they are doing to protect their players. The movie “Concussion”, starring Will Smith, speaks about the difficulties that Dr. Omalu had to face with his discoveries and the threats that he received from NFL fans and the league themselves. After all, if players feel that the sport is going to negatively affect their future, then why take the risk?
This raises questions among high school football, which still involves tackling and aggressive hits on players which is common in the sport. Are these players really safe and will high school football lead to concussions and possibly cause problems for these kids in the future? According to the Concussion Foundation, symptoms of CTE can be seen weeks or months after a concussion so anyone can be a victim of the disease. Furthermore, CTE cannot be diagnosed until after someone’s death which means that you will never know if you suffering from CTE.
The NFL has taken all of these concerns into consideration and constructed a more thorough concussion protocol for players. The doctors also always have the final say as to whether or not players can take part in a game.
If an NFL doctor is concerned that a player has suffered a concussion, that player is taken off the field immediately. Then the team physician will review the play and perform a careful neurological examination. After that takes place, if the player is feared to have a concussion he is immediately taken to the locker room for further examination and if a concussion is diagnosed, he will have no chance of returning to that game. If it is determined by team physicians and team physicians only that the player can return, he is closely monitored throughout the game.
The uproar from the public has caused the NFL to respond. The NFL has made it clear that the safety of their players is the number one priority but the concussion issue remains an imminent threat and is taken into account by experts everywhere.