Rue & Primavera - November/December 2018

November/December 2018

My Unpopular Opinion About Football Is the Threat Worth the Thrill?

T he moment the first fall leaves hit the ground, Americans all over the country start preparing themselves for an event they have waited for since February. They load up their grills with delicious burgers and brats, brush the dust off of their favorite jersey, and plant themselves in front of the TV to yell, cheer, or jump up and down while watching one of the most action-packed competitions known to mankind: Monday Night Football. Football has become forcefully interwoven into the fabric of American culture, and it definitely plays a role in my life. That being said, though, I’m going to offer up a less popular opinion than those held by my fellow compatriots: Football isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I know some of you are going to give me flack for this opinion, but I hope that even if you wholeheartedly disagree, you’ll hear me out first. From the perspective of a physical therapist and a mother, my experience with football has never been wholly positive. While I was in school, I spent a considerable amount of time learning about

maintaining physical health and avoiding injury. Yet every time these players walk out onto the field, they purposefully put their bodies at risk. I understand that a lot of research and energy has gone into perfecting their pads and helmets, which should protect them from injuries. But as the NFL continues into its 53rd year, the sprints seem to get faster, the passes seems to get longer, and the hits seem to get harder. The juxtaposition between observing the sport’s ferocity on Sunday and treating my patients on Monday forced me to question my perspective on football overall. Something just feels off about it. My perspective changed even more when my youngest son, Austin, decided to play when he was in high school. During this time, scientists all over the country were vehemently warning parents and coaches of prevalent, undiagnosed concussions among high school players and the harrowing effects this brain trauma could cause if changes weren’t implemented. According to a 2017 study in the Journal of Athletic Training, football players are 16 times more likely to suffer a concussion than athletes playing other sports, and repeated concussions can lead to neurodegenerative diseases that cause memory loss and severe

–Wendy Rue damage that football can cause to the human body. I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but it’s one that I stand by. depression. Though I was considerably anxious standing on the sidelines, I really did love watching him on the field. He was a great athlete, and anyone who watched him play could see that he loved the game. However, while practicing during his junior year, he got hit so hard he nearly passed out, which prompted us to speak to him about the potential long-term consequences of playing football. His coaches encouraged him to continue playing, but in the end, he decided against it. I will admit that I was relieved when he opted out. I understand that for most Americans, football is quintessential to the high school experience. But in their haste to feel the thrill of those Friday night lights, players, as well as parents and coaches, often forget that high school football ends after four years, but the body you were born with has to last you the rest of your life. Now, I would never discourage anyone from being physically active, but I hope that people will consider the intense

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