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Concussions of the brain, especially those inflicted during a sports game, such as football, are now being discussed publicly. A class action lawsuit, initiated by former football players against the National Football Leagues was recently adjudicated with the outcome that NFL has formed a dedicated escrow fund to assist those former players who now demonstrate long-term brain concussion outcomes.

A recent TV broadcast displayed a clip in which a parent said, “In all these years we have talked about (sports) injuries; talked about what our limits were, for example ‘concussions’. We decided that after their third concussion, they are done. That was it. And the kids know that.” This was a clip from a show called “Friday Night Live’ (Tuesdays, Esquire Network) which followed five youth football teams In the San Antonio, Texas area. Commentator Chris Hayes said,”… this show is incredibly disturbing. I think it is unregulated youth football. It is not even Pop Warner. It is an even less regulated sports enterprise.”

President Obama said, “I would not let my son play football. These guys know what they are doing. They know what they are buying into. It is no longer a secret. You are now talking about professionals who are getting compensated. And then there is the questions of 12 year-olds”. A discussion moderated by Chris Hayes, followed wih former
professional football players Roman Oben and Mike Pesca.

‘Should 12 year olds be running around knocking heads together when the amount of evidence we have about concussions is pretty much inconclusive. What do you think that might be?” Roman Oben commented,”From an NFL standpoint, they are fining guys; the refs are throwing flags left and right; and they are trying to make the game safer. That will trickle down to the 7 to 8 year olds. By the time one of those kids is lucky enough to makes it to the NFL, which is one of 5,000 kids, the game is going to be a lot safer.”

Hayes continued, “But many kids are not making it to the NFL, however, the question still remains. The reality is that lots of repeated sub-concussive impacts to the head over time have a real effect on brains. There is a quantifiable level of risk there. So what about the kids who play in youth football leagues?”

Mike Pesca (former commentator, NPR) said, “Those coaches in that clip are an abomination. The parents must check their bios before letting them coach their kids. They are not the loving, concerned coaches which help kids learn to develop their motor skills; how to use proper techniques; how to play as a team member. Those coaches want to win at all costs; they tell their kids to stick it to their competitor. They may be striking out at a societal problem which is 
that kids are coddled; kids are weak. But I think that they represent a bigger societal problem, which is that these adult coaches have no sense of proportion nor propriety.”

Roman Oben: “ In 2001, my oldest son was born. My wife and I decided he would not play contact sports, especially tackle football, until after he was twelve years old and was physically developed enough to have the motor skills to take the abuse of contact sports. Then he could do all the sports—football, soccer, basketball, baseball, etc.—to build a foundation of coordination and motor skills. That
was before all the recent knowledge about concussions. Parents have to understand why they allow their kids to play sports: setting goals; learning teamwork; learning how to deal with diversity; not for an end result.”

It seems that an age of 12 years is a good time to consider contact sports. Highlights of the parent’s responsibility are: A) set limits to your child’s contact sports involvement to when your child is ‘ready’ physically and mentally. B) Evaluate the sports program and its coaches. C) Avoid those coaches who want victory at any cost. D) Know that your child will learn team dynamics; communication;
coordination; get a sense of belonging; develop motor skills by acquiring correct body mechanics and personal experience. The parents, child, coaches, local leagues, and the community are all involved. Local sports binds a community together. All need to be responsible and accountable for continuing assistance for those who are injured
while playing any sport.

An outcome of injuries to our wounded warriors from the Mid-East is that much more is now known about the human brain. It is still an enigma. It uses some 20% of one’s energy and requires sleep to recover from one’s awake activities. Also, the human brain is  continuously in a development mode, from conception to about age 26 when it reaches full maturity. Then it begins to slowly deteriorate
with age and use/abuse. Many of its mysteries still need description. In a sense, the human brain is a biological computer which needs to be
continuously programmed with information about morals, ethics, paradigms, facts, concepts, and logic.

Today many damaged brains are assisted to ‘recover’ through rehab therapy. Many mentally challenged individuals can be assisted with ‘psychiatric drug prescriptions’. Youthful brains recover well; older ones never recover. Cerebral-vascular accidents are serious events; brain concussions must be mitigated.


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