Concussions, the lingering issue that affects players and parents

The scoreboard sits as it waits for another season of Rancho Football.

Jacob Persi

The scoreboard sits as it waits for another season of Rancho Football.

Concussion, a temporary unconsciousness or confusion caused by a blow to the head. It is a very simple injury to get if someone gets hit at a fast rate, usually can be found in the sport football. According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, there are about 300,000 cases of concussions per year in a regular football season, with about 149 during the 2022-2023 NFL season, an 18 percent increase from last year.

Since football is a high-contact sport, it is inevitable that there will be physical collisions between players. Because of this, some parents have grown concerned about the long term effects, such as head injuries, that are sustained while playing the sport, including concussions. The parents question if this is a safe sport or hobby for their children to participate in. Such concerns include head injuries, which could cause long-term health issues and the functioning of the brain, leading to a decline of youth football participants and parents suggesting a more of a non-contact sport. Others like doctors and professionals try to implement and create better and more safe equipment to prevent head injuries.

“When my kid came up to me and told me that he wanted to play football, it was exciting for me because I love football. But as a parent, I was equally concerned because football is a rough sport,” Bill Persi said. “There is always a chance of injuries, and no parent wants to see their child get hurt. I’m also proud because it is a physically demanding activity that requires a lot of self discipline. To see my son complete a season with just as much passion as he had from the start, fills me with pride.”

Persi, father of a football player at Rancho Cucamonga High School, also played football when he was in high school. While playing, he described how he always got injuries on a monthly basis, mainly head and upper body injuries. He played linebacker and fullback, some of the more physical positions in the sport. 

Like Persi said, the injuries always come to mind when it comes to football, and it could affect the parents decision when it comes to deciding if their kid should play or not.

“Of course, there is always a concern but knowing he is wearing the proper attire required for football helps relieve any concern for serious injury,” said Michelle Redman.

Football equipment has gradually progressed and improved over the years to enhance safety and performance. From leather helmets in the 40s, to padding, to evolving advanced padding, equipment has faced significant changes in its history to reduce injuries.

“There is always a chance for injury in any sport, but we can’t keep that from not allowing our kids to have the chance to play with a team for a sport they love.” said Redman

Parents who don’t allow their kids to play football can be very emotionally effective for the kids. It could lead them to feel things like disappointment, anger, frustration, confusion, and resentment. They could be disappointed that they are left out of football while their friends are out playing it themselves. They could get angry at their parents by telling the kid no, leading to tension in the household. Frustration by the kid and feeling helpless of not being able to do what they wanted to do. Confusion between the parents and the kid, maybe not fully understanding their side of the story. Along with resentment with the kids being resentful towards the parents because of the decision and it not being in their best interest.

Concussions can cause significant concerns when it comes to long-term health problems. When someone suffers a concussion, the brain has been jolted around the skull, which results in damaging brain cells. For a football player, players can receive multiple concussions in their career, or even in a single season, for example Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The increasing number of concussions can result in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, better known as CTE. CTE is a degenerative brain disease that can lead to memory loss, depression, and other cognitive and emotional problems. Another condition that can be caused is post-concussion syndrome, which can cause persistent headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. As a result, the National Football League (NFL) included sideline assessments and a mandatory rest period for players who suffer a concussion, to try and mitigate the long-term health effects of these injuries.

“When you get a concussion, it feels like you’re disconnected from your body and get really light headed and just about can’t focus,” said Junior Nathan Carrasco.

When a player gets a concussion, the brain gets damaged and suffers from its normal functioning. Because of this, it can result in decrease in blood flow from the brain, can cause lightheadedness, and dizziness.

“Getting multiple concussions affected my football season because the coaches didn’t want to play me. It also affected my season because I was scared to hit another player because I thought I was going to get another concussion,” said Carrasco.

This is pretty common for people who have suffered from multiple concussions. There is the fear of developing CTE and can not only be a concern for athletes, but a regular human being.

“The concussions didn’t really affect my physical state but it really affected my mental health. It affected my mental health because now my memory is horrible, I also can’t think as well as I used to,” said Carrasco.

Sustaining multiple concussions can be detrimental to a person’s mental health because it can cause changes in mood, anxiety, developing depression, and having trouble with simple things like concentrating or remembering. These symptoms can last from weeks, months, and even years for some cases, for example former NFL receiver Antonio Brown.

In the end, the decision of playing football and risking future head injuries is an important decision that players and their families must make for themselves. However, players are always informed and taught how to perform basic tackling on a daily basis and with the evolution of equipment have lightened the stance on many parents, along with parents wanting their kids to have fun. It is crucial that the research on concussions and head injuries continues as well furthermore understand how they are caused and what people can do to prevent them and create better solutions for football and other high-contact sports.