Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

How Will Football Evolve?

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

How Will Football Evolve?

Article excerpt

A new football season has begun, whether you prefer the National Football League, college football, high school Friday nights or none of the above. Without doubt, this captivating and often violent game has become part of American culture and, in essence, our national sport.

Even though it was with great pleasure that I watched my youngest son play during high school, my reservations about the game's safety have heightened over the years.

After being superficially educated about some of these questions by former WVU neurosurgeon Julian Bailes, I became truly concerned by the revelations in the ongoing NFL concussions controversy.

Although there has been considerable research looking into the relationship of head trauma in football to permanent brain damage and various dementias, the newly released movie "Concussion eloquently chronicles the discovery of the new disease "chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE, which can be diagnosed only at autopsy, has now been correlated with dysfunction and bizarre behavior in its victims, many of whom were career football players.

After years of denial of any significant long-term effects of chronic head trauma, the NFL finally acknowledged that it was mistaken while negotiating a legal settlement in 2013.

Obviously, there are similar problems in college and high school football, but what can and will we do about it?

History can guide us. In 1905, brutality in football had become such a problem that, in addition to hundreds of serious injuries, there were 19 fatalities in college and high school. In fact, California, Stanford, Duke and other colleges dropped football after the 1905 season, leading to intervention by President Theodore Roosevelt.

The president gathered leading football authorities from around the country and urged them to act to reduce the violence. In response, they proposed and implemented multiple rule changes, the most radical being legalization of the forward pass. …

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