TBI is real for folks who play collision sports. Call it “concussion” or “mild” TBI or whatever else you will. Call it “character building” and “just part of life”. But brain trauma goes hand-in-hand with slamming your body into other players on a regular basis.
Helmets will not keep brains from slamming against the insides of skulls. They literally can’t.
Coaches and parents need to get real about this, and understand the conditions they are helping to create.
Truly, I do not understand the rationale behind keeping kids playing collision sports — whether they’re young OR older. Helmets give you a false sense of security — which actually makes the situation worse, because a concussed brain can feel like a great brain. I know from many personal experiences, when I hit my head hard enough to alter my consciousness, after an instant of feeling like the lights went dim, when “the lights” came back up, I felt fantastic. Like I was superhuman. I’m not the only one.
As Riki Ellison, a former teammate of Junior Seau who like Seau played middle linebacker at USC and in the NFL, put it:
The fact is that when you receive what I would refer to as a partial but playable concussion, there is a unique feeling of being high, of floating, of being numb to pain and unaware of other distractions. This produces a happy state that translates to a belief of invincibility and a superman complex. In some ways, it acts just like a drug. You become addicted to that feeling and want more of it. And when you get another hit, it feels even better. (read more here)
And as long as kids are wearing helmets, and parents and coaches are thinking that they’re safer because of it, we’re just creating more opportunity for kids to injure themselves — in the short and long term.
I’ve been accused of attacking football. Not really. What I’m guilty of attacking is our willful ignorance about what role concussion plays in our youth sports… and how that affects the well-being and futures of kids who are “safer” wearing the latest headgear.
It’s one thing to not know about the dangers. But when people tell you, plain as day, and you refuse to take note — or do something about it — well, that’s something else, entirely.
And that goes for all collision sports where headgear is supposed to protect the players.