Football: Is It Worth The Risk?


By Sean Muth

Sentry Staff Reporter

Football is one of the most popular sports in America. Just go to the football games on Friday nights and the number of students and parents at the game can confirm that. Everyone loves seeing big plays and powerful hits on the field, but these can also turn out to be dangerous. It’s not surprising that players suffer injuries, considering the amount of blocking and tackling involved. One major injury is a concussion. A recent PBS online article indicated that 79 former NFL players had their brains analyzed upon their death and 76 of them tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease contracted after multiple concussions or serious blows to the head. Its effects, which include depression, memory loss and dementia, do not show until years later. This data raises debate over how safe football is, and how deadly concussions can be.

Parker Denny, a junior wide receiver on the varsity football team, recently suffered a concussion.

“I have it right now,” said Denny. “So far I have been out for two and a half weeks. With other types of injuries you might be able to play through it or have a set timeline when you will be back to playing. With a concussion you have to be patient. You can be out for a week, or a whole season, depending on how severe it is and how your brain reacts to it.”

A concussion not only affects your ability to play football, it can also make it difficult to concentrate in school. Symptoms include headaches, sensitivity to light and being tired most of the day.

“Sometimes school can bring on these symptoms so staying home while you have symptoms is recommended,” said Denny.

Parents naturally feel worried about their children playing contact sports. Dani Seltzer, mother of junior Michael Hamby who plays center on the varsity football team, says she does worry for her son’s safety, but it does stop her from letting him play.

“Concussions can happen in diving, in gymnastics, in soccer, in softball, in basketball. Concussions can happen tripping and falling going up the stairs,” Seltzer said. “While I worry about it, I am also educated, and I don’t think we can live our lives in such a way that we can avoid them.”

According to TIME magazine, participation in tackle football for ages 6-12 fell 26.5% between 2007 and 2013. Parents were worried that their children would get injured and didn’t let them play. Concern for player safety has become a major discussion not only among parents, but within the National Football League as well. Referees in the NFL are now calling more penalties such as illegal hands to the face and illegal defensive contact to cut down on injuries. They are also calling more personal fouls for leading with the head during tackles.

The risk for concussions is real, but it does not change the fact that most teenagers will continue to play the sport at the high school and college level.

“I am not concerned about getting another concussion,” said Denny. “If it happens, it happens. It’s just a part of football. No matter how high tech the football helmets get, concussions will always go along with football.”


Featured Image by Rachel Finley/SENTRY