Friday, March 4, 2011

The NHL and Contact Sports Sad Truth

Bob Probert covered in blood..fighting as was his norm

Concussions can cause irreversible and permanant brain damage.

Legendary NHL "enforcer" Bob Probert's family donated his brain to science after his untimely death a few months ago. The shocking news from Boston University where it has been studied all this time is that Bob suffered from a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Sports teams..and their fans..are going to have to come to grips with this sad reality. No one gets away with a "safe" hit, whether its on purpose or as the reult of a fall. The consequences are very serious.

CNN's Sanjay Gupta spent last Sunday mornings show discussing the topic of degenerative brain trauma via football and it was sad to hear. Thousands of high school and collegiate athletes suffer concussions every year. It used to be "I'm good coach, send me back out" and out they went. These kids are at a higher risk if they get in to professional level play and sustain even more concussions. Life altering risks. In the pros, it's "I'm not paying you $25 million a year to lay there, get the hell up and get the hell back on the field." And now we know the result.

Bob Probert is..was..certainly not alone.

Philadelphia fans know first hand, what happened time and time again to their star Flyers hockey player, Eric Lindros. After the 4th or 5th concussion the guy was a walking vegetable. Not only did he retire at age 34, but there were other medical conditions at play. The team doctors, after one game, diagnosed Eric with a rib injury and sent him back to his hotel. That night a teammate discovered Eric nearly dead in a bathtub. He was unresponsive, pale and cold to the touch. Once again the team doctors unaware of the severity asked him to just fly back to Philly for tests. The teammate instead called an ambulance and it was discovered that Eric had a collapsed lung and nearly died. Not only would the flight itself have killed him, but also the delay in immediate treatment. That teammate was Keith Jones, current on air TV personality for the Philadelphia Flyers. He saved Lindros's life.

All too often, money takes precedent over injury. Team doctors are of course not ordered to look the other way, but what happens is that the "team" doesn't want to order a player unfit to any cost.

Now, we know the cost is too high. Teams are finally being held accountable for the treatment of their players. Now when a player goes down, We know what the cost is and We know that the player shouldn't be allowed back out in the arena or on the field. We know when a team is looking the other way to let their cash cows eventually destroy their brains.

Because of this new knowledge, Sydney Crosby, star Penguins player might live to play another day without the fear of CTE. He has been benched for what seems like forever since his concussion. He's probably out for the season now. Good.

It is called degenerative for a reason. The effects are not immediate. It takes years for the symptoms of brain trauma to surface. A player that gets hit today and plays next week may one day suffer memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression to the point of being suicidal.

All contact sports players are at risk.

Doctors now know that Lou Gehrig suffered from CTE and not the disease which has his name.

Football players Lou Creekmur, John Grimsley, Chris Henry and Tom McHale have all been diagnosed with post-mortem CTE. Eleven other players have been diagnosed after death with it, too.

Hockey player Reggie Fleming had it. Now we know Probert had it. How many more players will it affect? Lindros?

Pro Wrestler Chris Benoit had it as did Andrew Martin.

From Wiki:
"Boston University researchers also found CTE in an amateur football player, 21-year old University of Pennsylvania lineman Owen Thomas, following his suicide. Thomas was the second amateur football player diagnosed with CTE, after Mike Borich, who died at 42.

On December 21, 2009, the National Football League Players Association announced that it would collaborate with the CSTE at the Boston University School of Medicine to support the Center's study of repetitive brain trauma in athletes. In 2008, twelve living athletes (active and retired), including hockey players Pat LaFontaine and Noah Welch as well as former NFL star Ted Johnson, committed to donate their brains to CSTE after their deaths. In 2009, NFL Pro Bowlers Matt Birk, Lofa Tatupu, and Sean Morey pledged to donate their brains to the CSTE. In 2010, 20 more NFL players pledged to join the CSTE Brain Donation Registry. As of 2010, the CSTE Brain Donation Registry consists of over 250 current and former athletes.

In February 2011, Dave Duerson committed suicide, leaving text messages to loved ones asking that his brain be donated to research for CTE."

This is new and startling. A growing trend of suicidal players. Chris Benoit, unfortunately, killed his entire family before killing himself.

Boston University deserves to be commended for this CTE study and hopefully the sports we all love will find a safer way to protect their players.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lindros owes Jonesy a dinner a day for the rest of his life for what he did!! He would have been dead was it not for Keith Jones. I am a big fan of fighting in hockey but i do believe its time to change things!! The statistics don't lie. Nice report OMNI!!