One of the main attraction of coming to a Big 10 school such as Penn State is the prominent and famed athletics. I know that this upcoming football season is something myself and many other students at the university are looking forward to. Professor Andrew has made it clear that science is prevalent in every aspect of life. With the football season right around the corner I have been thinking a lot about it. I have been thinking about the science of football. For most students the excitement of the games is sparked from the aggressiveness of both teams, big hits, and big plays. Football is an extremely physical where people celebrate pain inflicted on the opposing team. While this may seem highly entertaining and enticing to watch, it has a downside.
Select students at the university are responsible for putting on the show. They have been recruited for their outstanding athletic ability and dedication to the game. While they may enjoy playing in big games and being apart of an elite group of students, it all comes at a cost. Every time these men step on that field they are risking their health. Essentially there is a hit out on them by the opposing team.
I am from New Jersey, where Rutgers is the state university, which also happens to be a BIG 10 school. A student named Eric LeGrand was an extremely talented football player that was affected permanently by his football career. In the first play of a game on the kickoff he was going for a tackle and collided head first into the kick returner. Immediately after the play, Eric remained motionless on the field. He had been paralyzed from the neck down. You can see the play here.
LeGrand made a speech at my middle school where he explained his story and the high risks of injury that comes with playing a contact sport. Recently there has been many former NFL athletes who have been retired for a very long time reporting a wide range of health problems do to their years in the league. While their are injuries in many sports, head and neck injury usually occur in a contact sport. These injuries leave a much more permanent and severe affect on a person.
In many cases the result is CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. This causes the brain to deteriorate which puts these individuals at an extremely high risk for diseases such as dementia. Other areas of the brain are susceptible to enlargement which causes a disruption with the function of neurons. This all interferes with the basic undertaking of the brain and other diseases. More details about the cause and effects about CTE can be found here.
One of the primary aspects of football is being aggressive and a hitting hard. The game would not be the same without this facet. However this is an extremely dangerous sport that many people have or will deal with the repercussions. Athletes have to be more aware of the risks that come with playing these contact sports. They are glorified for it and some are fortunate to play at the highest level which is very lucrative, but they are sacrificing their health. More research has to be done for safer equipment as well as more testing on these athletes to prevent deep-roots and sometimes permanent injuries.