Most little boys grow up watching football. Many of them dream of being NFL stars. When I was a young girl, I and lots of other little girls wanted to grow up to be princesses. It rarely happened, but the dream was there. (Why don’t boys want to grow up to be dragons?)
When you think about it, becoming a princess has little danger attached to it, unless, of course, you meet up with an ugly step-mom, a prince un-charming, or a menacing dragon. But becoming a football player at any stage of a person’s life can cause frightful injuries to one’s brain.
Repeated crashes of helmets undoubtedly can cause serious damage to the brain. Players frequently suffer concussions from hits on the field. One concussion can cause serious brain damage, but even repetitive subconcussive hits will cause brain damage over time.
Imagine a brain and skull as a blob of Jello encased in a mason jar. Shake the mason jar gently and observe what happens to the Jello. It becomes damaged. If that Jello were a person’s brain, the part that was damaged would affect that person in some way. It could cause physical disabilities, like a balance issue, a swallow disorder, ataxia, vision impairment, and/or many other physical problems. The damage could affect that person’s emotions and/or behaviors. Or it may cause personality disorders, mood swings, memory loss, depleted organizational and managerial skills, learning disabilities, and/or anxiety, to name a few other issues. The possibilities are endless. Any combination of these can happen from a brain injury and will affect a person’s life forever.
Most brain injuries are unexpected and happen in an instant. A slam to the head because of a car crash, a trip and a fall, combat, or an assault are some examples. A person can’t prepare for or anticipate this kind of brain injury.
But some brain injuries can be predicted. Contact sports are high on the list for expected brain injuries. Football and soccer are right there on the top. So why do we let, even encourage, our youngsters to play these dangerous sports––sports that can affect their lives forever?
Need I say more? Well, I could, but I’m going to let this short one-minute video say it for me. I hope you’ll watch it. Hall of Fame inductee and retired starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, Brett Favre, speaks out and opposes tackle football for young children.
I can only hope other NFL players will join forces with Brett Favre and go even further in keeping our children safe.
If boys dream of becoming dragons, like I dreamed of becoming a princess, the quality of their lives would not be at risk. And the chance of becoming an NFL star is only slightly greater than the chance of becoming a dragon.
I am the author of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver's Tale. It's the true story of how my husband almost left me--three times.