By Sam Dulieu
Sports: A pastime created by the people, for the people. While there are many benefits associated with being an athlete, there are risks that must be assumed, specifically injuries. In contact sports such as football, hockey, and MMA, the risk for injury are especially increased. Depending on the severity of the injury, it could end their career. In worse case scenarios, it could end their career and have life–threatening effects.
One such injury is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, also known as CTE. CTE involves physical degeneration of the brain, however experts have not determined how the number, severity and other factors related to head trauma contribute to it. (Mayo Clinic). In addition to the lack of concrete evidence around CTE, it can only be diagnosed through an autopsy of an athlete who is suspected to be suffering. Although certain symptoms such as emotional instability, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and impulsive behaviors are common, there is no established treatment for the condition or method to diagnose an individual while alive.
To better understand the severity of CTE, take Aaron Hernandez, former Patriots tight end for example. He had a short-lived career in the NFL after being a charged on accounts of murder, ultimately leading to his incarceration and suicide while in prison in 2017. Hernandez was known for being a physical player throughout his whole football career and was exposed to numerous hits to the head throughout. As he progressed through his professional career and received more physical contact to his head, the symptoms of CTE began to show. In 2012 at Cure night club in Boston, Massachusetts, Daniel de Abreu bumped into Hernandez and spilled a drink on him while inside, which caused Hernandez to follow him out and ultimately murder him in a drive-by shooting outside of the club. This displays both impulsive behaviors and emotional instability on a large scale, and his suicide in 2017 also raised red flags. Upon analyzing his brain in an autopsy, they found that he had the most severe case of CTE found in an individual at that age.
CTE in Hernandez’s case destroyed his football career and cut his life short from playing a sport he was very passionate about. On the other end of the injury spectrum, other injuries are less life–threatening, but still bear some weight in risk to the athlete. Take Patrice Bergeron, Captain of the Boston Bruins, for example. Between October 2017 and November 2019, Bergeron amassed 6 injuries which inhibited his ability to play in the short term, however he managed to recover from such injuries as broken ribs and a separated shoulder and remains an elite player in the National Hockey League (Fox Sports).
Around the world, people are able to use sports as an outlet activity to learn about, participate in, and/or make a career out of whichever one they prefer. Wherever their niche, there are a multitude of subjective benefits ranging from the fame and glory to financial security. When it comes to life-threatening injuries, however, there is even more risk that the athlete must assume. While science is still trying to discover new treatment and diagnoses of these life-threatening injuries such as CTE, it is still important to be aware of the risk and take the proper precautionary measures to ensure a pleasurable, safe activity such as sports.