When my parents signed me up for football I was 8 and I knew then that I loved the game. To the casual fan football is just a bunch of big men running into each other over and over. But the game is like work of art when it’s played correctly. Football is 60% mental and 40% physical meaning the most athletic guys aren’t always the best players. There are the aspects of football that make it a dangerous and life-altering sport. I thought I knew as a kid what I had signed up for. Back then we didn’t know what a concussion was we just called it “seeing stars”. I often saw stars when I would lead with my head on a big hit. I didn’t know those were concussions back then. The consistent headaches after practice were just normal to us; it didn’t feel like a big deal besides everyone else was going through it. Every player has a limit on how many hits our bodies can take. Either your body quits on you or you mentally check out. I wish I could put into words the way my body feels after a game. I’ve heard that each football collision is the equivalent of being in a car accident, I would agree with that. Imagine being in 40 car accidents in a 2 hr period our bodies aren’t meant for that kind of punishment. It may seem as if Im bashing the game that I love but on the contrary I just want to shed light on a dark topic. Brain damage caused by football is becoming more and more obvious. After guys retire, they all speak about how much they’ve changed mentally. Junior Seau took his own life because of the brain damage he suffered during his playing career. CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative disease found in the brain of people with a history of brain trauma. Outside of boxing, football causes the most concussions in major sports. No matter how many rule changes are made FOOTBALL WILL NEVER BE SAFE. I believe they have made the game much safer over the years but when you have big collisions injuries are inevitable.
Mentally I’m not the same person that I was in the past. Life happens but I know that football has taken a toll on my brain. Sometimes I’ll run upstairs and forget why I even went there in the first place. I’ve played through concussions and I’ve seen that “white flash” that athletes talk about. When I see older players dealing with dementia and other brain related diseases I can’t help but to see a future me. I’ve played football since I was 8 and Im 31 now so that’s 23 years of collisions. Even with the new information about CTE I wouldn’t change my decision to play. Football kept me away from the street and anything else that wasn’t good for me. Without football I wouldn’t have been able to see the world so easy. But going forward we need to educate our sons about the good and the bad of this game. Some football players aren’t with us because they couldn’t deal with the mental day to day struggles. I feel their pain and we are all connected in a way. The game has gotten safer and safer. But you can only imagine what they went through in the leather helmet era;concussions had to be crazy back then.Knowing what I know I’m still deciding to continue playing, I mean you can’t help what you love. I just wonder the long-term effects and what’s my future when I’m older.