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Health Risks in American Football

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Health
Wordcount: 2064 words Published: 21st Sep 2017

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Stephen Zheng

Is it worth to play football?

According to Meryl Gordon, on September 24, 2002, one of the hall of fame NFL football player, Mike Webster, died because of heart attack. The major reason that caused his death was chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Mike Webster was the first victim of chronic traumatic encephalopathy and his death should ring a bell to people. There are a lot of more examples of football players with this brain disease, such as: Ken Stabler who struggle with stage three chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Tyler Sash who had been found dead at his home by taking too much pain medication and was founded having an advanced degree of Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Frank Gifford who was 84 and suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Dave Duerson who donated his brain to the Cneter for the study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Chris Henry who found chronic traumatic encephalopathy at the age of 26, Justin Strzelczyk who struggled with chronic traumatic encephalopathy before he died in a car accident, etc. (According to NFL players with CTE) As a result, I can say that head injuries have made football a very dangerous sport for players.

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First, by explaining why football is dangerous for players, we need to learn about the history of football. American football is from Britain’s rugby football. So, I should start from rugby football. According to “A Brief History of the Game”, Rugby football is middle school in Britain in the middle of 19th century. Gradually, rugby football got disseminated into North America. In 1869, Rutgers University and Princeton University played a rugby football game. American football is a derivation from rugby football. Walter Camp, who was from Yale University, is considered to be the “Father of American Football”. He introduced line of scrimmage, of down-and-distance rules and of the legalization of interference. The popularity of college football grew as it became the dominant version of the sport in the United States for the first half of the 20th century until today. And in now days, American football became the first sport in the United States. According to statista.com, in 2015, Super Bowl was watching by 114.4 million viewers in the United States. This is very important to know because by understanding the history of football, I can see that since last century American football has gradually rooted into a part of American culture. And That is why every year there are so many people watch Super bowl every year.

Also, it is very important to know the game rule of football. According to “American Football rules (the short version)”, “When a team has possession of the ball (on offense), the object is to move the ball forward into the end zone, or, barring that to move the ball a minimum of ten yards in four attempts (called downs, the first of each series being ‘first down,’ and so on). To make it easy to keep track of their success or failure, the playing field has lines drawn across it at five-yard intervals, with the yard numbers noted every ten yards.” According to the official game rule of NFL, there are over one-hundred pages of rules. The paragraph above is just one of the play rule of football. From the rules of professional football, we can know that professional football is a very physical sport. We can except there will be a lot of body contact and concussion going on during professional football games.

By introducing the history of football and explaining a little bit of the game rule of American football, we need to know why people in the United States love to watch football?

Every year, there are so many people in the United States watching NFL final game, “Super Bowl”. On the previous super bowl, there were about 111.3 million people watching or switched channel on FOX during the super bowl game. According to “3 Reasons Why People Love Football”, the author summarized three reasons why people love football in the United States. First reason is “Football gets people excited”: “Foot is intense. There’s reason why fans sit at the edge of their seat as soon as the quarterback huts the ball. They hype alone is enough to give people an adrenaline rush. Emotional highs are like a drug. When your favorite team makes that a long run to the touchdown zone in the last few minutes of the game, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed with joy. For some people, it’s not the specific feeling they’re feeling that draws them, but that they’re feeling something at all.” I think watching football is a way to people to vent their depression in their life. There are so many people just upset with football. By watching football, they have reasons to be happy or mad. Second reason is “Football gives people something to talk about”: “Humans are social creatures. We love being around each other. We love to talk. It’s the reason why you’re on this forum right now. For many people, football is the perfect conversational avenue to take when you have nothing else to do at the office’s water cooler. We like discussing sports, not simply because we enjoy the thrill of talking about entertainment, but because we enjoy the thrill of talking to others.” I really agree with the author’s point. Football is involved in people’s life. Football is a like tool to start a conversation with people. For example, you can make friends with those people who love the same team as you. Third reason is “Football Makes People Feel like they’re a part of a team”: “Football is all about teamwork. Each player must put in their work and effort to get that trophy. But as people, players need more than that. They need encouragement and support. That’s where fans like you come in. You are the one that’s got their backs. You feel like you’re with them on the field. Every win and loss hits them just as much as it hits you. You’re family. You’re connected. And that’s why you love football.” I do agree people who love football feel like they are a part of their football teams. When you go to a football game, you are “involved” by cheering for your teams. Imaging you are sitting at a huge football stadium with thousands of other people. You are “involved” into the cheering atmosphere; you get upset like other people do. American football is not just a sport. It has become a part of culture.

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However, this top one popular sport in the United States may cause a serious brain disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. According to “What is CTE”, “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. Brain trauma can cause a build-up of an abnormal type of a protein called tau, which slowly kills brain cells. Once started, these changes in the brain appear to continue to progress even after exposure to brain trauma has ended.” We can see from this article that CTE is a type of disease like cancer that produce a type of protein that the brain doesn’t need and take up space and slowly kill the good cells in the brain. As a result, a patient who has Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy will slowly “losing their minds” such as, losing memories, or hard to control emotions. I can’t imagine how much people suffer from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. According to “What is CTE?”, “CTE was first described in 1928, when Dr. Harrison Martland described a group of boxers as having ‘punch drunk syndrome.’ Over the next 75 years, several researchers reported similar findings in boxers and victims of brain trauma, but fewer than 50 cases were confirmed. The name Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) was first used in the 1960’s and became the established name. In 2005, a Pittsburgh pathologist named Bennet Omalu published the first evidence of CTE in an American football player: former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster.” CTE has been discovered for a long time. But CTE was not payed attention by people. In my opinion, the reason behind this is CTE is a very long-term disease. People do not realize how serious CTE is until the final stage of this illness. Also, in the 20th century, CTE was a very rare illness. As football was established to the United States, football became more and more intense- players started to helmets and gears on. CTE started to “creep” into football players’ brains.

According to “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis”, Bennet Omalu was the doctor who conducted the autopsy of Mike Webster. And he discovered that there was a large amount of tau protein in his brain. Concussion is the big reason that causes Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. According to “Frequently Asked Questions”, “we Believe CTE is caused by repetitive brain trauma. This trauma includes both concussions that cause symptoms. At this time, the number or type of hits to the head needed to trigger degenerative changes of the brain is unknown.” From the passage above, we can see CTE is caused by brain trauma. And head concussion can cause lesion to the brain by some unknown reasons. Also, currently, scientists cannot explain how hard of concussion or how many hits to the head would cause brain lesion and produce brain trauma. Even though we cannot explain why concussion would cause Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, we still need to attach great importance to this brain disease. We cannot say if people cannot prove how concussion causes CTE, then it is not a serious brain disease. What’s more, CTE is a long-term disease. Brain trauma will gradually erode those “good” brain cells. Players who has CTE may not take their illness seriously during the early stage of CTE.

Football is too dangerous to play because there is no good way to play safely without any concussion. For example, let’s say a football player is fully armored with a really good helmet on his head. When he runs and is tackled by other players, he will fail on the ground because of inertia. Therefore, we can that concussion will happen no matter a football player wear helmet or not. According to “Paige Osborne: Football is too dangerous for children to play”, “because no particular type of helmet can keep children 100 percent safe from injuries. It turns out when researchers tested different brands of helmets, they found virtually no difference in the safety of the headgear. Regarding the concussion rate, Xenith company brand helmets have over a 6 percent concussion rate, Riddell company has over a 9 percent concussion rate, and Schutt company headgear has over 8 percent concussion rate.” From the passage above we can see that even football players wear helmets, there is still a about seven to eight percent that those football players are going to have head concussions. It is very important to know that wearing a helmet cannot avoid concussion but relieves concussion. In conclusion, we can say that there is no way to avoid concussion while football players playing.

In conclusion, football is too dangerous for football players to play because football players can and will get concussion for playing football and concussion would cause Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy which is a serious brain illness. Even though we know that play football could get Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, football is still the top 1 sport in the U.S. By explaining the history of football, we know that football has already rooted into American culture. Therefore, we can say that although football is dangerous, people still love football and would like to take risk of getting Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. However, if we think in long term, people could struggle with this brain illness for the rest of their life. Is it worth to play football? The answer is not worth it!


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