… There’s something more; presumably, if they really learn how to diagnose this, they will be able to say exactly how common it is for football players–and maybe athletes at large–to develop CTE. This is when you start thinking about football and an existential crisis. I don’t know what the adults will do. But you tell a parent that their kid has a five percent chance of developing crippling brain damage through playing a sport, and you will see the end of Pop Warner and probably the end of high school football. Colleges would likely follow.
There’s a part of me that’s skeptical. But that part will never sit in a doctor’s office with my child being told that a risk of serious brain injury has been diagnosed. Nor has that part ever been a member of a family that sees a college football career as a means – maybe the only one – to a child getting a degree at least and perhaps to going on to a NFL paycheck.
If this study bears fruit, I suspect that before you’d see football’s death, you’d see an attempt made to take concrete steps to improve player safety, both with equipment changes and with rules changes. Whether those would work would depend on how good technology would get, how serious the NCAA would be about enforcement – and how fan support would be affected by the changes. Tough calls all around.