There has been a lot of discussion about concussions in sports over the last few
years and how many athletes have had their careers, and even their lives, threatened
due to suffering concussions while participating in their sport. Perhaps most
notably now is hockey player Eric Lindros of the Philadelphia Flyers who just
returned after a vicious hit several weeks ago. His brother's career was ended after
one too many concussion.
Other athletes, not just hockey players, have ended (or probably should end) their
playing careers after too many blows to the head. That image of Stan Humphries of
the Chargers staggering around wide-eyed after a shot to the head or that picture
of Boomer Esiason after getting speared by Bruce Smith almost made me sick to
my stomach. After that hit, Boomer was quoted as having lost the will to live. Scary.
When I was growing up, getting knocked in the skull was just part of sports. It was
almost comical to see someone get up after playing tackle football in the front yard
and stagger around like they were half-crocked. I played soccer for many years, half
of those spent bouncing a ball on my head. When done correctly, I'm convinced
this causes little to no harm at all.
When not done correctly, you might feel a little
woozy for a moment or two, but generally you were able to walk it off. A knee injury
was looked at with more trepidation than a head injury. Well, new research shows
that those who suffer concussions may be setting themselves up for severe
problems as they grow older.
A study published at www.newsday.com has some frightening things to say about recurring concussions in athtletes.
"The blow is sudden and forceful. You are
instantly blinded by a burst of brightness, then enclosed in darkness. Images are
fuzzy; memory is distorted. Everyone has a twin. The hand in your face shows four
fingers, not five. The president is Reagan. Niagara Falls is in Texas."
We've all been
there, but after a few minutes, the fuzziness wore off and we jumped back out
there. No problem. However, the study continues,
"Reassured, you return to action, unaware that by doing so, you've just multiplied
the chance of a repeat episode and invited the possibility of long-term brain
It's the term "long-term brain damage" that frightens the hell out of me. We all can
see the result of too many years in the ring on Muhamad Ali, but what about
athletes in other sports? As players in all sports grow faster and stronger, utilizing
incredible advances in sports technology, players can hit harder and at quicker
Concussions are only going to get worse in sports like football and
hockey, but could also be a factor in basketball in the future. The NBA is quickly
turning into a free-for-all with a thug-like mentality and it may just be a matter of time
before someone gets killed on the field, ice or hardwood. This is not a far-fetched
idea in my opinion. But let's hope I'm wrong.