The Secret Killer of Football Players

Written by on February 9, 2020

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) with Football Athletes 

Dwight Clark, Junior Seau, Aaron Hernandez, Mike Webster, Andre Waters, Daniel Teo’Nesheim, Mosi Tatupu, Terry Long and Jovan Belcher are just a few out of hundreds of men that played in the NFL and have been diagnosed with CTE. CTE stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE has been a big topic in the sports world over the past decade. It has ruined lives of great athletes, not only harming them on the field, but also beyond.  CTE, which can only be diagnosed after death, is identified by the buildup of a tau protein in certain portions of the brain. It has been associated with mood swings, depression, dementia, impulse control issues and suicidal thoughts. Former football players with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is a brain disease linked to repeated head hits, doubled their risk of developing the worst forms of the disease for each 5.3 years they played. Due to my research from the New York times it said, based on the lives of 266 former  professional players whose brains were donated to the CTE Center at Boston University. They were published in the medical journal Annals of Neurology. Of those players, 43, (about 16 percent) were found not to have CTE. In addition to this, the more years a player is active in  football the higher the chance of a CTE diagnosis. CTE isn’t just happening to professional players, and that is one of the scariest parts. It is also affecting college football athletes. One of the many players that has been affected severely by CTE is Greg Ploetz.  He was a defensive tackle at the University of Texas. He was also part of the 1969 national championship team. He died of complications involving dementia in May of 2015 at the age of 66. Ploetz never played football professionally, but started playing for fun at the age of 10 and began to show signs of the disease at the age of 60. His symptoms, which began as memory loss, confusion and headaches, worsened in his later years and led to loss of speech and dementia. With that being said, 147 college football programs have now been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy CTE. Every conference within the college football Power 5 conferences ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and Southeastern Conference SEC has at least one of its schools represented among the 26 college football programs with three or more confirmed cases of CTE. The 26 programs which have three or more confirmed cases have combined for 83 national championships. CTE has been happening frequently in contact sports out of any other outside sport. Mostly football is the sport where it’s really common. When it comes down to who has the most cases of CTE in college football it comes down to Georgia. They have the most documented CTE cases with nine. Then  Michigan State with eight. Then Auburn, Iowa, Ohio State, Purdue, South Carolina, University of Southern California USC, and Wisconsin have five cases.. Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona State, Boston College, Colorado State, Kansas State, Michigan, Notre Dame, San Diego State, Texas, and UCLA have four cases each. Cornell, Penn State, Ole Miss, North Carolina, and Washington have three cases each. All of these schools are top tier programs and these cases are extremely wild for how high the number of cases have. In conclusion this is a real problem that shouldn’t be ignored or handled in a sloppy way. We need to figure out a way to make the game of football safer. Our athletes at KWU and across Kansas deserve solutions for this life-threatening, underground, epidemic.  

       Manuel Ricci | KWU Student Media
Manuel Ricci | KWU Student Media

 


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