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Recently, warnings about the risks of concussions in football have come from retired players, coaches, medical professionals, the media and active veterans. The public seems to take even the new studies on the long terms risks of concussions with a grain of salt. Concussions have become a huge debate in America, especially when they relate to football. The world of football is bound to change soon, with the constant media attention on the players long term effects after they retire, and some players finally speaking up for their own health.
Recently, Christ Borland announced his retirement at only age 24, because of the health risks associated with head injuries. Borland told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”, “ I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health. From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experiences, I don’t think its worth the risk.” This decision and press statement from Borland only reignited the debate about football and safety, especially when it pertains to head injuries. Boland’s decision is significant because as a somewhat high profile player, he has the fame to reach out to players and parents and try to help them reach the same conclusion that he has; that the consequences of football become too serious down the road for the sport to be a long term career. Borland’s decision came after the much-debated documentary on Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett. Dorsett speaks of his daily battles with constantly declining health brought on by chronic encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain that has been linked to repetitive brain trauma.
Last year, Columbia University football coach, Pete Mangurian, resigned. The Columbia Daily Spectator had described a letter that was signed by 25 Columbia football players and that had been sent to a handful of university officials, including Bollinger. In the letter, the players accused Mangurian of denying concussion diagnoses and refusing to let players rest after injury. “There are several players who will speak to the fact that Mangurian told them to return to practice, that they are faking their concussions, and that they are being soft if they sit out for their concussion injury,” the players wrote, according to the CDS. Mangurian knowingly put his players in a dangerous situation. He may have been regarded as one of the tougher coaches, but no coach should jeopardize a player’s health for a single game. The way Mangurian viewed concussions, is the same way the public views them. Since you can’t see a concussion, the majority of the public sees not playing with a concussion as not being a “man”. But jeopardizing your overall health now and down the road, is something that no coach should ever make a player choose between.
There is a foreseeable immediate future for football, as for every player who makes a decision like Borland, there is a new player waiting to take his place. However, players are finally speaking up about the wrongdoings that are affecting their overall health. Concussions are no longer such a taboo topic, that issues surrounding them are kept quiet. With the constant media attention on the negative effects of concussion, and most importantly the real life documentaries of the extremely negative side effects that retired football players are facing, younger players should start to reevaluate the importance of football in their lives. Especially, when it may cost them the chance to function normally.
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