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  1. #1
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    Football's Silent Shame - Inaction on Alzheimer's/CTE


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    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/...in-on-the-gam/

    I know there is an attitude within football that is resistant to health and safety, "it's a man's game", "it's a contact sport" and all those cliches. I know we mocked sir Alex for suggesting a ball to the head could have killed Van Persie. I know when the idea of heading the ball being banned has come up before people aren't particularly fond of the idea.

    But there is growing evidence that constant head traumas are leading to serious long term health problems. Should we really let machismo and "never done me no 'arm" attitudes prevent action to protect people from themselves?

    It's not just Alzheimer's, which the telegraph points to in their article.

    The NFL, another sporting institution that prides itself on manliness is starting to wake up to the affect concussion can have. (There was a recent film with Will Smith about one doctor's struggle to get the NFL to take concussions seriously - though being a hollywood film it focused on one person and ignore the work of a lot of others - Including Chris Nowinski and the Concusion Foundation he set up after his pro-wrestling career was cut short by concussion - as was Bret Hart's)

    It's not just that there appears to be a larger frequency of alzheimers and other dementia-like illnesses in footballers, but that the brain trauma caused has almost certainly led to some serious incidents in other people (i.e. NFL, wrestlers, etc) that impacted in major ways.

    CTE was found in the brain of Jovan Belcher, who murdered his girlfriend before committing suicide; Shane Dronett, who pulled a gun on his wife before turning it on himself; Chris Henry, who fell from a truck during a domestic dispute with his girlfriend; and Junior Seau, who was arrested for domestic violence and later killed himself. Dave Duerson, Ray Easterling, Terry Long, Adrian Robinson and Andre Water all committed suicide. Tom McHale and Tyler Sash died from an accidental drug overdose. Justin Strzelczyk spoke to friends of "evil" voices before driving into oncoming traffic the following day. He died instantly when he collided with a tractor-trailer.

    NFL star Paul Oliver had never experienced any signs of aggression until several head injuries turned him "into a monster," according to his widow.

    "He's never been like that. And every time after, he would always say, 'I don't know what's wrong with me. Something's wrong with me.' He's like, 'I can't control myself anymore.'

    After Paul Oliver committed suicide, CTE was found in his brain.

    This is just from the NFL roster. Professional wrestler Chris Benoit murdered his wife and son before killing himself. He, too, had CTE. Most recently, BMX legend Dave Mirra committed suicide. Once again, CTE could be to blame.

    Manziel's off-field issues have mostly been blamed on drug and alcohol abuse -- although those with CTE often use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate.
    (Huffington Post)

    No, I'm not suggesting every time a player heads the ball he gets a concussion, or causes damage, or even that we are definitely going to get an extreme example in football as the above ones in NFL, but there are a lot of knocks to the head over the cause of a season, and a career, that can have a cumulative effect.

    Isn't it time to listen more to the science and not simply brush this under the carpet and wallow in denial by sweeping aside proper discussion and action with the usual "'elf and Safety gone mad, innit" or "it's all right the balls are lighter now"?
    Last edited by Acker79; 30-05-2016 at 22:34.
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      Drew drew's Avatar
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      Certainly research is very much warranted but it does seem that that all the footballers referred to were playing with the old fashioned leather balls which, with a bit of rain, were more like medicine balls. It would be interesting to see the different effect when ball design changed and whether the ever lighter balls that we now seem to get make a big difference!
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      British and Proud spence's Avatar
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      Not this rubbish again
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      If heading had been banned from yesterday's playoff final (Barnsley-Millwall) there would have only been about 10 minutes play. Slight exageration maybe but there was an awful lot of aerial ping pong going on.
      Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.

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      Quote Originally Posted by drew View Post
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      Certainly research is very much warranted but it does seem that that all the footballers referred to were playing with the old fashioned leather balls which, with a bit of rain, were more like medicine balls. It would be interesting to see the different effect when ball design changed and whether the ever lighter balls that we now seem to get make a big difference!
      There is a lot of focus on heading, and 'let's ban heading' is often a headline catcher, but it's not just that, is it? It's the likes of Jedinak and Fellaini leading with their elbows, it's collision of heads when two people go for the same ball, or the keeper colliding with the attacker, it's the occasional boot to the head when you bend down to meet the ball, it's the knock to the head you get when you land awkwardly after going over the player, etc.

      I might be just as guilty of simplification in my initial (late night) post, but it is a far reaching question that goes beyond the simply heading the ball.
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    • #6
      A. Virgo, Football Genius
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      if we are to listen to the science, then lets do that and setup some experiment and investigation. what we absolutely must not do is base anything on NFL studies, which is a complete different ball game.
      The English know how to make the best of things. Their so-called muddling through is simply skill at dealing with the inevitable.
    • #7
      AlecsGrandad
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      Quote Originally Posted by drew View Post
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      Certainly research is very much warranted but it does seem that that all the footballers referred to were playing with the old fashioned leather balls which, with a bit of rain, were more like medicine balls. It would be interesting to see the different effect when ball design changed and whether the ever lighter balls that we now seem to get make a big difference!
      I think that's the answer. I'm not saying that football shouldn't 'do something' for all the past-era players who now suffer ill-health, but the problem for future players has now been solved by the improved equipment. If people think it hasn't then what do we do? Ban heading? Have head guards like they do in amateur boxing? Elbow pads to prevent accidental injury? Hopefully they won't try and introduce one of those things in a kneejerk 'something must be done' moment. Something HAS been done.

      EDIT: And I do remember having to head old-fashioned leather footballs (with laces). Jeez it wasn't a pleasant experience when they were dry, but wet .... The modern balloons they use now aren't in the same league.
      Last edited by Brovion; 31-05-2016 at 12:33.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Acker79 View Post
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      Isn't it time to listen more to the science and not simply brush this under the carpet and wallow in denial by sweeping aside proper discussion and action with the usual "'elf and Safety gone mad, innit" or "it's all right the balls are lighter now"?
      But a better worded paraphrasing of that IS a valid response in the debate. Equipment (lighter ball) has been changed and continues to evolve. Challenges, aerial and otherwise, that would have been let go in the 70s or 80s are now routinely punished with yellow or red cards. And sport is MEANT to be dangerous.

      It's not just football and NFL. Far more concussions in rugby and they are now starting to look after those injuries better in that sport but no one's suggesting taking the contact or danger out of it. Look at Jules Bainchi. Look at Phil Hughes. The only way to prevent those deaths would be to outlaw speed in F1 and bouncers in cricket. I wouldn't bother watching either if they did. And those are sudden, shocking deaths, not a late onset illness in someone who has spent their twenties earning millions of pounds and smoking £50 notes with super models.

      Even stripped down to grass roots you'll find most Sunday League players well up for physical contact and winning headers.

      It's trying to save people who don't want to be saved. Sorry.
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    • #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by beorhthelm View Post
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      if we are to listen to the science, then lets do that and setup some experiment and investigation. what we absolutely must not do is base anything on NFL studies, which is a complete different ball game.
      Quite, partly due to it being a late night post, and partly due to my rush to refer to the work of CTE and NFL's changing attitude I have perhaps led the discussion to the wrong place. The Telegraph campaign is simply for this. We were promised a study into brain damage caused by the game 14 years ago and we still haven't heard anything from that.


      Quote Originally Posted by Brovion View Post
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      I think that's the answer. I'm not saying that football shouldn't 'do something' for all the past-era players who now suffer ill-health, but the problem for future players has now been solved by the improved equipment. If people think it hasn't then what do we do? Ban heading? Have head guards like they do in amateur boxing? Elbow pads to prevent accidental injury? Hopefully they won't try and introduce one of those things in a kneejerk 'something must be done' moment. Something HAS been done.

      EDIT: And I do remember having to head old-fashioned leather footballs (with laces). Jeez it wasn't a pleasant experience when they were dry, but wet .... The modern balloons they use now aren't in the same league.
      Other than lighter balls, what has been done, really? And how do we know that it is enough to claim all issues "solved"? Yes, the balls are lighter, but that hasn't done anything to stop collisions, leading elbows (which seems to me to be on the increase rather than something that has been eliminated by the supposed "sanitation" of the modern game), awkward falls, players like hugo lloris being left on the pitch to continue playing after being knocked unconscious, etc.


      Quote Originally Posted by Guinness Boy View Post
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      But a better worded paraphrasing of that IS a valid response in the debate. Equipment (lighter ball) has been changed and continues to evolve. Challenges, aerial and otherwise, that would have been let go in the 70s or 80s are now routinely punished with yellow or red cards. And sport is MEANT to be dangerous.
      I don't mean to say that people can't point to lighter balls, but that that alone shouldn't end the discussion. It is one small part of the discussion and I don't think it should be allowed to shut down the discussion. How many times have people bemoaned the likes of Jedinak and Fellaini getting away with these elbows? Yes, we generally get a lot more cautions, but if you break them down, how many are actually related to incidents that could possibly be related to brain injuries? A lot of yellow cards are for tackles on the ground, removing of shirts to celebrate goals, etc. And just punishing these things with yellow cards haven't stopped them happening.

      They keep happening because there is an attitude that it's refs being jobsworths, or authorities trying to make it a non-contact sport, etc. so there is no desire to rid the game of it from fans and players/managers. If fans, managers, players etc had a greater understanding of the consequences, would there be a stronger desire to reduce the occurrences?

      How on earth says sport is meant to be dangerous? Physical? Competitive? sure, dangerous? Absolutely not a requirement. I have never watched a game of because of the threat a player might break a leg like David Busst, or a skull fractured like Petr Cech, or a heart attack like Muamba. I watch for the football skills and the competition.

      Quote Originally Posted by Guinness Boy View Post
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      It's not just football and NFL. Far more concussions in rugby and they are now starting to look after those injuries better in that sport but no one's suggesting taking the contact or danger out of it. Look at Jules Bainchi. Look at Phil Hughes. The only way to prevent those deaths would be to outlaw speed in F1 and bouncers in cricket. I wouldn't bother watching either if they did. And those are sudden, shocking deaths, not a late onset illness in someone who has spent their twenties earning millions of pounds and smoking £50 notes with super models.
      But that is you. Other people might not be so comfortable watching people risk their long term health in the name of entertainment. But surely people should at least have the chance to make an educated decision on this? And that is what the Telegraph campaign is about. Getting that information, trying to find what impact football has on brain injuries, and then looking at how we react to it. It might come out that not much is needed to protect players more. That the lighter balls have had such an effect that there is no further action football can be expected to take.

      Quote Originally Posted by Guinness Boy View Post
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      Even stripped down to grass roots you'll find most Sunday League players well up for physical contact and winning headers.

      It's trying to save people who don't want to be saved. Sorry.
      But again, and again perhaps this is my fault for the way I framed the initial post, this is about finding out the facts, these players might want to be saved if they knew more about the risks. There is a degree of 'I just did something, I feel fine, why would people stop me doing this?' in human nature, without regard for the longer term effects. People were reluctant to accept that smoking caused cancer, because they smoked and they felt fine, then years later they develop cancer. Now we all agree that it does, and it has stopped a lot of people from smoking. Yes, people still like to take that risk, but not as many as otherwise would (and remember there is the added issue of addiction with smoking - many people want to stop, but the craving makes it too hard for them)

      That's what the Telegraph campaign is about, let's have this study. Let's find out what links there are, if any, what action is still needed, if any.
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    • #10
      AlecsGrandad
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      Quote Originally Posted by Acker79 View Post
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      Other than lighter balls, what has been done, really? And how do we know that it is enough to claim all issues "solved"? Yes, the balls are lighter, but that hasn't done anything to stop collisions, leading elbows (which seems to me to be on the increase rather than something that has been eliminated by the supposed "sanitation" of the modern game), awkward falls, players like hugo lloris being left on the pitch to continue playing after being knocked unconscious, etc.
      .
      .
      So to repeat my question: what do you want to happen? Do you want to see something like players wearing headguards and elbow padding? My view is that you're massively over-dramatising an old problem that has been solved. Yes you can always find edge cases to 'prove' how dangerous football still is, but hard cases make bad law. Any activity that involves people physically competing for possession of an object involves a degree of risk, ditto constantly using your head for a purpose other than that for which it was designed. Do you really need more research to tell you this?

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