The athletic director and members of the school committee provided a very weak defense of football in their response to the Enterprise article in the June 20 edition about the dangers of concussion trauma encephalopathy, also known as CTE.
They agreed that boys who play football put themselves at increased risk, but did not demonstrate that the injuries—specifically CTE—justified the risk. They are apparently not aware of the lasting impact of concussions: personality changes, increased violence, dementia, depression and increased risk of suicide.
Mr. Ashworth stated that a boy learns life skills participating in football, but those same skills can be learned from other team sports and school activities which do not put students at such risk. He mentioned that enrollment might decrease if football was not offered, and that the community would be losing a valuable social activity. I ask Mr. Ashworth if it is ethical to risk permanent injuries to students in the name of school enrollment or community entertainment.
Mr. Hyldberg and Mr. Strojny wrote off football injuries as acceptable: the cost of playing sports. Their responses indicate they are not informed of the science which concludes that repeated clashing of helmets on a football field can lead to permanent brain damage.
I challenge the athletic director, the school committee and the PTA to do a genuine study of the risks of CTE from high school football. I believe they will conclude that it is irresponsible to continue to support a program that exposes students to the risks of permanent brain injuries.
Thomas R. Barnes