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The Tiger's Eye

Can This End

via NFL network
via NFL network

This isn’t a PSA but learning is needed. This isn’t persuasion but minds need to be swayed. This isn’t anyone’s fault, but accountability needs to be taken. Football, hockey, and wrestling all have one major issue. Could This Evolve into something worse? I bet you saw that. But just like the sports community it was ignored. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE for short, is brain damage that comes from repeated blows or hits to the head. In the case of high-contact sports it happens over and over, and over again. It’s a basic routine in sports, but there may be a way to fix this. Athletes know that CTE is a risk when deciding to play these types of sports. But do the higher ups understand?

Miami Dolphins quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, was off to a MVP caliber start this season.  Now his career is in complete jeopardy. In week three of the 2022 NFL season versus the Buffalo Bills, Tagovailoa went down and hit his head on the ground. After getting up and appearing a bit wobbly, Tagovailoa went to the locker room to be checked for a concussion. Surprisingly to NFL fans, players and officials alike, Tagovailoa was cleared to play.

Tagovailoa finished the game on a high note with a 21-19 victory against the division rival. Going into week four hopes were high. The Dolphins were heading to Cincinnati to face Joe Burrow and the Bengals. But late in the second quarter, Tagovailoa suffered another concussion, resulting in him needing to be carted away in an ambulance. What had happened was during that Buffalo game Tagovailoa had a concussion, and was improperly cleared to play. Tagovailoa should have never been on the field. His life was in danger and the medical staff brushed it off. Tagovailoa missed several games, but was all thought to be fine. The media didn’t know about this first concussion. Only the Dolphins coaching staff and medical team.  But during a Christmas Day game versus the Green Bay Packers, Tagovailoa suffered his third concussion of the season, becoming the only player ever to suffer three concussions in the same season. Surely there were precautions taken to try and prevent these concussions, right? Nope. A member of the Dolphins medical staff rightfully lost his job after he cleared Tagovailoa to suit up for the upcoming Cincinnati  game. But what now? Will Tagovailoa be able to play again? What does this mean for the future of the NFL and other contact sports? One thing’s for certain. The NFL failed Tua Tagovailoa. 

The reason why CTE is such a hard monster to attack is because medical professionals can’t pinpoint it to one hit. In fact there is no way to ever tell someone has CTE without completely dissecting the brain. The hits are small and periodical. Over and over and over again, these athletes are being hit. Some may say that the money professional athletes earn is worth it, and yes, that is a valid argument. Who wouldn’t mind some mental damage for millions? But the problem is this condition causes dark thoughts to spring up, from depression, ADHD, or even in extreme scenarios, suicide. Aaron Hernadez, who was proven to have CTE, killed his best friend and was ultimately sent to prison. On April 19, 2017, Hernadez was found hanging in his cell by a bedsheet. An autopsy was performed, and it was proven Hernadez had CTE.  

No one is trying to take these sports we all grew to love away from us. But action has to be taken one way or another. The sports that generations have grown up with are in danger. Young former athletes are dying at alarming rates from seizures, suicide, and other neurological issues. NFL Hall of Famers Jerry Seau and Mike Webster both died before the age of 51. Webster’s behavior was so erratic that before his death, he was pulling his own teeth out and tasing himself. Currently, there is no profound way to prevent CTE, but finding ways to soften the blows taken to the head can be. Some athletes have resorted to Judo to learn how to fall properly by hitting the back of their head on the ground. Better helmets and other headgear are in development. Educate yourself and others to help work towards preventing this immeasurable illness. Lives are in danger and we Can Take Emphasis.

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