In the wake of a University of Michigan study on the long-term health of retired pro football players, there is a rising chorus of concerned voices. The study, commissioned by the NFL, shows higher rates of dementia, Alzheimer's and other brain-related syndromes in those who suffered the repeated concussions associated with the sport.
I read the story in last week's New Yorker in which Malcolm Gladwell compared the physical damage done to NFL lineman to that done to the animals used in dogfighting -- very much in the news after the return to the field of Michael Vick. Gladwell's point wasn't, of course, that pro football players get ripped to shreds, but rather that they sacrifice their bodies for the enjoyment of others.
The New York Times has a story today about a former NFL executive trying to rally support for the retirees, who sometimes fall through the cracks of the league's support programs, and a Congressional committee has announced that hearings will be held on the matter.
As I've mentioned on this blog before, I know a little bit about the issue, having written a story about concussions among high school athletes when I was a sports reporter in southern Maine. (I recently posted the award-winning story again at The Eastie Jolt.)
The medical professionals I spoke with at the time were quite concerned about the issue and felt that it needed to get more attention from everyone involved in youth and collegiate sports -- and not just with regards to football, but other sports where concussions sometimes occur.