TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

So, Whaddya Think?

Football Puts Children’s Brains at Risk


David Figurski and Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Note: This is our third opinion essay on brain trauma and American football. The first and second were published on this blog on December 17th and December 26th, respectively.)


So Whaddya Think Brain th-4Lack of awareness of new knowledge has allowed society to continue what some of us now know to be dangerous practices with respect to children. To understand what we mean, watch these short videos of children practicing or playing American football (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

The danger to the brains of children in the videos is readily apparent to us (video, story). Parents often believe a brain injury is rare. But the evidence indicates otherwise. The hundreds of sub-concussive hits that a player of American football receives each season can result in the degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE can lead to loss of memory, loss of cognitive ability, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), aggressive behavior, depression, and suicidal thoughts. It has been seen in the brains of high school football players. In fact, individuals who started playing organized American football at a young age seem to have a higher rate of CTE.

Bennet Omalu

Dr. Bennet Omalu – neuropathologist – discovered CTE

Recently, Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered CTE in an American football player by studying the brain of Hall-of-Fame center Mike Webster, was the author of a recent New York Times Op-Ed entitled Don’t Let Kids Play Football. In an interview for zap2it.com, Dr. Omalu said, “As a modern society it’s our duty to protect our most vulnerable, most precious gifts of life: our children. This is where I stand.”

(We highly recommend your seeing the newly released movie Concussion, which will bring about more awareness of the danger to the brain from playing American football. The movie tells the true story of how the National Football League – NFL – tried to dismiss Dr. Bennet Omalu’s discovery of the connection of brain disease and the playing of American football. Former players are suing the NFL, claiming that the NFL knew of the dangers, but did not inform the players.)kid-football-players-clip-art

In the documentary Head Games (online and free), we are reminded that children are not miniature adults. A child’s head is larger than an adult’s in proportion to his or her body. The neck muscles are not proportionately stronger, so a child’s head is more vulnerable than is an adult’s head. Brain development continues until at least age 14. (Some neurologists think brain development may continue longer.) In addition, the neurons in a developing brain are not yet fully myelinated. Recent research has shown that a concussion in a child impairs brain function for two years. The risk to the brain is the major reason why US Soccer banned heading for children 10 and under.

George Visger

Former San Francisco 49er – George Visger – TBI Survivor

On August 16th, Donna conducted a radio interview with George Visger, a former defensive lineman for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers on her radio show, “Another Fork in the Road,” on the Brain Injury Radio Network. Visger stated that youth football might ultimately end because of the eventual high cost of liability insurance (minutes 30:25-33:45; we think you will also find the intervals 5:40-15:55 and 39:40-42:25 interesting because of their contents – children and football). Dr. Omalu, the discoverer of CTE in an American football player, says in Frontline’s documentary The League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis that he was told if 10% of mothers think playing football is too dangerous, it will mean the end of football.

The consequences of a brain injury can be especially devastating, even fatal, to a young player (video 1, video 2, story of the suicide of a teenage football player). The risk of brain injury from high-impact sports, especially American football, is significant even for adults, but an adult can make his or her own decision to play. In contrast, children rely on parents and Brain in Helmetcoaches. No parent would deliberately put a child’s life-trajectory at risk, but what if the parent lacks awareness? The good news is that apparently society’s awareness is growing quickly. Peter Landesman, the director of Concussion, said that Pop Warner football enrollment is down by more than 30%. (Pop Warner football is for children aged 5 to 16.) The movie Concussion will further increase society’s awareness of the danger of concussions and sub-concussive hits, show what CTE is, tell Dr. Bennet Omalu’s story of his discovery of the relationship of CTE and American football, and show Dr. Omalu’s struggle with the NFL.

Healthy and Damaged Brain

Left – Healthy Brain — Right – Brain with CTE

It is also the brain-injury community’s responsibility to speak out to show society how life-altering a brain injury is.




So, Whaddya Think?

Let’s get a dialogue going. Post your comments in the Comment Section. Directions are below.

So . . . what do you think? Is there something you are passionate about in this Brain Injury (BI) world? Do you want to be heard? Your opinion matters! You can SPEAK OUT! on “So Whaddya Think?”

Simply send me your opinion, and I will format it for publication. Posts may be short, but please send no more than 500 words. Send to Neelyf@aol.com

I hope to HEAR from you soon.

As I say after each post:

Feel free to leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow Me Via eMail” on the right sidebar of your screen.anim0014-1_e0-1

If you like my blog, click the “Like” button under this post.

If you REALLY like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it intact with your enemies. That works for me too!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

Comments on: "So, Whaddya Think? . . . . . Football Puts Children’s Brains at Risk" (5)

  1. My name is Brian Dropkin. On August 23rd 1989 I suffered a football injury and I suffered a subdu hematoma which is a brain hemmorage. I was in a coma for 5 weeks and while I was in my coma I suffered a stroke. I had 6 years of intense therapies to relearn everything over and my family has sacrificed so much to get me the best I could be. I did loose half of my vision and walk with a limp. I was parilized on my right side. I was wearing a defective football helmet.


    • Brian,

      I am so sorry that happened to you. Although helmets can protect the scalp from lacerations and bumps, it really is not a completely effective means of protecting the brain.

      The brain is a soft-like organ that floats in a protective fluid. But when the head is whiplashed or jostled or jerked back and forth causing it to hit the bony skull, it can be very damaged. The amount of damage is determined by how hard the brain hits the skull. The type of damage is determined by which part of the brain is affected – for example frontal lobe, parietal, cerebellar, etc. Like snowflakes or fingerprints, there are no two brain injuries exactly alike.

      Fortunately, because of the work of Dr. Bennet Omalu, science is beginning to recognize the seriousness of contact sports. I hope that it will be able to spare the lives of other young players.

      I appreciate your reading and commenting on my blog and I wish you well.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski


  2. […] Source: So, Whaddya Think? . . . . . Football Puts Children’s Brains at Risk […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tag Cloud

Welcome to Harmony Kent Online

The home of all things books

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Blog magazine for lovers of health, food, books, music, humour and life in general

Pete Springer

Passionate Teacher and Future Children's Author


Help One Person Excel - To Be Independent

  WriteForKids - Writing Children's Books

Become a published children's book author via books, ebooks and apps.

For the Love of Books, Old and New

Katie Fischer, Writer and Reader of Stories

Charlie Bown

Children's Author

Jessica Hinrichs

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ― Anais Nin

VIVIAN KIRKFIELD - Writer for Children

Picture Books Help Kids Soar

Mindy’s Writing Wonderland

For authors, parents, teachers & everyone who loves children’s books.

Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez

Literary Agent

Surviving Traumatic Brain Injury

TBI - Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Claire Stibbe

Thriller Author and Blogger

The Care Factor

Loving someone with a Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain Injury Support Group of Duluth-Extension

Brain Injury Information and SUPPORT

Brain Aneurysm Global Insight

Brain Aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhaging, hemorrhage stroke

%d bloggers like this: