This article I’m going to refer to here came out in March of 2014. I never saw it. I think it’s really interesting given the state of football in the media right now. In 2015, football in the media is like the big box warehouse coming in to a small town. Everyone is in a panic!! I don’t know, maybe I’ll look back in 20 years and say “You know, those pundits were right, football is horrible.” But as for now, nope. The sky is not falling.
I did some research about the death rates comparing high school football and high school baseball, over a 20 year period. You might find the results very interesting! I’ve not seen anyone in the media sit down to actually research something like this, to do a comparative analysis. What we get instead is when (God forbid) a high school football player dies, it’s kind of like mass hysteria. We get the “fastest rate of death among high school football players in history” type of articles. Usually, they aren’t true. They are just getting website hits, and causing paranoia.
We get NFL players who are just a few years removed from making a KILLING playing the sport saying that they won’t allow their own kids to play the sport. The same sport that built their mansions, and set their kid’s kid’s kid’s kid’s kids up for LIFE.
Of course, football is awful, what were you thinking playing it?!
Anyhow, this study by Tulane University “found no link between years of play and any decline in neurocognitive function.” This is significant. Especially on the heals of a noted doctor, Dr. Omalu, writing an op ed in the NY Times saying that children shouldn’t play football. (Remember this study came out a year before Omalu’s piece.)
He says: “If a child who plays football is subjected to advanced radiological and neurocognitive studies during the season and several months after the season, there can be evidence of brain damage at the cellular level of brain functioning, even if there were no documented concussions or reported symptoms.”
I really believe that the key word here is the first word in this paragraph: IF. That’s a big IF in my opinion! The second important word is CAN. There “can be evidence.” He’s never done this research. He’s never tracked this kind of brain damage happening. That’s important to note.
Now, let’s look at Tulane’s study.
Tulane’s study found that: “The correlation between the number of years of football participation and the performance on the digit symbol substitution test does not support the hypothesis that participation in a collision sport negatively affects neurocognitive function,” Stewart said. “The implication is that the playing of football is not in and of itself detrimental.”
Researchers retrospectively reviewed data obtained between August 1998 and August 2001 on 1,289 New Orleans high school football players, including years of participation, age and concussion history, as well as scores on common neuropsychological tests: digit symbol substitutions (DSS), pure reaction time (PRT) and choice reaction time (CRT).
You can find the article about this study here.