- Created on Saturday, 19 September 2015 10:09
My principal objection to colleges playing Division I football has been about academic fraud – that is, colleges can’t compete successfully at this level without arranging for players to cheat in the classroom. As a result, all of the major programs engage in systemic fraud. See my earlier posts on the subject here, here, and here.
But there is good reason for all schools – high schools and colleges alike – to consider giving up football entirely. A new study suggests that as many as 95% of NFL players and 80% of high school, college, and semi-professional football players develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease that can cause confusion, aggression, progressive dementia, memory loss, and depression. CTE is associated with repeated concussions but is otherwise rare.
The new study may overestimate the percentage of affected players because it was done by examining the brains of deceased players, and those who believe they suffer from CTE are more likely to donate their brains for such a study. Nevertheless, the new study is consistent with other evidence, and it seems likely that a significant percentage of football players – whatever that percentage may be precisely – sustain serious, permanent brain damage.
The football world is experimenting with ways to reduce brain injuries through better helmets, different blocking and hitting techniques, and evaluating players for concussions to keep those who have sustained concussions off the field for a period of time. All of this is to the good. But, of course, big-time football has an interest of keeping the game going regardless of how well it can protect players against CTE. Meanwhile, this is one more reason for colleges who truly care about honesty, integrity, and morality to give up Division I football.