This column is about what I feel is the real sports story of the year and, if you know my optimistic and positive approach to writing, and living, I’m sorry it’s not an upbeat, inspirational piece, but its importance can’t be overstressed. Also, I’ve waited a long while before addressing it because it strikes a personal note.
While the question of steroids in sports continues to be a hot and sensitive topic that will continue to persist as a by-product of serious, high-level competition, it will always have to be monitored because every time one “extra edge” component for achieving success is regulated, another one is discovered.
It’s all part of the competitive world of sports, or life in general – to obtain the passion and drive to be a winner using by any means necessary, often spurring the need of a substance to accomplish the addictive task of winning, or, from a professional point of view, making money and increasing income, which is the American way.
This brings us to the root of my column, “concussions and the consequences,” which is truly the most pertinent story of this year, or any year.
Of course injuries are part of life, and the more physical the endeavor, the more the risk of injury, putting the world of sports in the spotlight for assorted injured body parts. But when the injury is a concussion, then we’re dealing with both the body and the mind.
Outside of serious, and sometimes tragic, injuries involving the neck, spine and paralysis, injured ankles, hands, arms, legs, fingers, shoulders, hips and the muscles and bones that connect them can, in most cases, be mended, fixed and healed with ever-progressing modern Western and Eastern medicine.
But with concussions, we’re talking about our brains, our minds, our memories, our present and future conscious existence.
Currently, the recovery rate from concerning concussions, which range from mild to serious, is and should be a slow one – not popular with a fast-paced society – because we’re still learning more about concussions.
This, again, brings us back to sports, with football at center stage, which are producing the chilling proof of the after-effects of multiple concussions.
In fact, I feel today’s football is endangered because, and there’s no two ways around it, is a violent sport played with the head snear the center of the action. I don’t care how engineered for protection with padding and head pieces a helmet is, there’s a head with a brain inside that’s being thrashed about.
So let’s not blame the helmet makers because no matter the protection, the head will always be in harm’s way when someone plays football, which has always been known, but the yearning to play turns the right decision into denial.
I do love football as a former player and current follower and reporter, and I’m willing to accept major changes that will protect the head, even though it will alter the athleticism of the players and change the violent culture of the sport. But something better be done because parents are already stopping their children from playing football because of head issues.