The topics of concussion awareness and mental health have been circulating the sports world. Recently, longtime sports broadcasters Bob Costas and Al Micheals left their roles in broadcasting to promote concussion education and awareness. Costas, who is known for hosting “Football Night in America” on NBC over a decade, spoke at the University of Maryland.
“The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains,” Costas said.
A recent study published in Brain, a journal of neurology, presents the strongest case yet. Repetitive hits to the head that don’t lead to concussions — meaning no loss of consciousness nor other symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, vision problems or confusion — cause CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. This is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. In CTE a protein called Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells.
This study ultimately reinforced the importance of concussion prevention and awareness, not only within the NFL but high-impact sports in general.
“The cracks in the foundation are there,” Costas said. “The day-to-day issues, as serious as they may be, they may come and go. But you cannot change the nature of the game. I certainly would not let, if I had an athletically gifted 12- or 13-year-old son, I would not let him play football.”
Al Michaels also recently came out and expressed his concern for whether football should even be legal considering how deadly it is. He believes that head injuries have an extremely lasting impact.
“Concussions are a major threat to a degree … to the extent that when kids are coming up and want to play football and are not allowed to by their parents or by their grandparents — whoever is raising them — I think that would be the most important issue going down the line,” Michaels said.
Costas and Michaels are raising important questions regarding the safety of the sport. Head injuries are common in the NFL and in other high-impact sports. Costas and Michaels’ call for change could engender many new regulations.
Photo courtesy of NBC Sports Pressbox