Written by Dr Jim Tunney on August 6, 2018
On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS August 6, 2018, #704…C.T.E
After further review…The beginning of the 2018 National Football League season began with the Pro Football Hall of Fame game featuring the Baltimore Ravens vs Chicago Bears. Heading this article with C.T.E. is, perhaps, not the best beginning for a sports article. However, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.) will be very much in the news as the season progresses. C.T.E. is a degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive blows to the head. A protein called Tau causes clumps in the brain that slowly spread throughout, killing brain cells. Symptoms do not generally begin appearing until years after the onset of head impacts.
It is easy to see how football players are susceptible to this disease. It has been said, “football is not a contact sport, it is a collision sport.” You can hear coaches shouting to their players now. “Ya gotta knock somebody down.” Most of those former players diagnosed with C.T.E., even knowing ahead that they may be C.T.E. susceptible, would do it (play) all over again.
Blows to the head can happen to kids hitting their head when falling off a bicycle or skateboard or using a “header” in soccer or any contact sport. It’s the repeated blows to the head that lead to traumatic brain injuries. Unfortunately, examination of the brain for C.T.E. is able only through autopsy, going undiagnosed until then. “Concussion protocol” is being used in some sports for early identification of brain injuries.
Football continues to be the favorite of sports fans. Is it the fierce contact that creates the excitement for fans? Perhaps, but that’s not the reason players play the game. For most players, it is the camaraderie, i.e., fellowship, as well as the effort every player gives that draws them to the playing field or court. The Tunneyside has for several decades encouraged the use of the word T*E*A*M as Together Everyone Accomplishes More. Certainly, working together is paramount for a successful team or business, and for family cohesiveness.
Where can you learn teamwork better than on the playing field or court? Sports can do that. Coaches need to emphasize that element of their sport. Sports can also be the vehicle to help one deal with a setback, emphasizing the belief that getting back-up after getting knocked down is what counts. In life, as is football, that lesson can serve you well in your journey. That’s why this writer, his sons, and his grandson played the game.
Much is being done at the professional, collegiate and school levels to teach proper blocking and tackling techniques. We hope those skills are being practiced correctly.
Will you log-in your feelings about the physicality involved in the game of football?
To contact Jim, go to JimTunney.com or email Jim@JimTunney.com.