It’s time to employ our critical thinking skills
Just prior to the Super Bowl, NBC released its recent survey results on parental concerns about high school football-related concussions. Just know that NBC made a calculated move in doing so. Apparently NBC found it necessary to stir the pot while all’s abuzz about football — because there aren’t enough alarmist opinions and articles already being pushed by the media on the subject.
The NBC/Wall Street Journal survey polled 900 adults between January 13 and 17. Approximately half those respondents were reached by cell phone, which makes me wonder who these adults were. I mean, who answers their cell phone when they don’t recognize the caller’s number?
NBC goes on to report statistics that supposedly prove nearly half of American parents have concussion-related concerns associated with high school football. Well, half those polled don’t have children in their homes. And that causes me to ask how current are they on the research being conducted?
The good news is that 49% apparently see no need to encourage a child to change sports for fear of a football concussion.
But the best news about this is that none of what the NBC/WSJ poll has to offer is credible, scientific research.
Scientific research on high school football-related concussions
Rather than rely on dubious poll results (which can easily be skewed), let’s see what the science has to say.
Researchers specifically questioned whether an association exists between playing high school football and cognitive impairment and depression in 65-year-olds. The Journal of American Medical Association Neurology published their findings in August 2017.
The study included 3904 men averaging 64.4 years of age (not 900 random people). The cognitive and depression outcomes were found to be similar among those who played high school football and their counterparts who did not play. You can access the article here.
It’s important to remember that JAMA only publishes peer-reviewed articles. This means the quality of the research must pass the review of scholars knowledgeable in the subject area before accepted for publication. I’m not sure how much NBC or the Wall Street Journal actually know about high school-related football head injuries. Their news reports are reviewed by an editor, which is a type of peer-review, but not a scientific or scholarly one.
Don’t believe all the hype
I blog extensively on concussions, in football and other sports. I acknowledge that a concussion can be a serious injury and that CTE is a concern that requires additional research. But I also advocate for best risk management practices to lower the risk of any injury. I also present the facts that almost always contradict the hype stirred up in the mainstream media. The media makes money off the fear and controversy surrounding football-related concussions. It’s in their best interest to keep the conversation going.
What they aren’t talking about
What’s missing from media headlines is that all 50 states and the District of Columbia now have concussion laws on the books. And these laws are constantly being improved upon.
They also don’t put on their front pages the the exponential growth in concussion awareness due to education. National sports associations have adopted brain injury and concussion risk management programs that key in on the essential elements of education, limitation of contact, concussion recognition, removal, and return-to-play protocols.
Parents, coaches, trainers and players are getting the information they need to be informed decision makers. The number of concussions in youth football and other contact sports is not increasing. Concussion awareness now results in more concussions being reported and treated.
For further reading
Below is a list of just a few of the articles from our blog that offer credible information to counter the constant flow of hype. Compare them and their sources to the fear-inducing and hyperbolic news reports like the one published by NBC this week. Draw you own conclusions.
Better yet, we invite you to read this like-minded opinion from a well-respected scientist and member of the scholarly community.
- State Concussion Laws
- Balancing the Concussion Hype
- “Youth Football Endorsed by Concussion Doctor”
- Refuting Reports of Increased Concussion Rates in Youth Sports
- Youth Athletes and Recovery
- AYF Study: 2005-15 Concussion Trends in Youth Tackle Football
- Fear of Concussions in Youth Sports
- Concussion Paranoia Trend in Youth Tackle Football on Decline
- Mark Murray. “Poll: Nearly half of parents would discourage football due to concussions.” nbcnews.com. 02 FEB 206.
- “Study: HS football not ‘major risk factor’ for cognitive impairment, depression later in life.” usatodayhss.com. 07 JULY 2017.
- S. Deshpande, R. Hasegawa, A. Rabinowitz, J. Whyte, C. Roan, A. Tabatabaei, M. Baiocchi, J. Karlawish, C. Master and D. Small. “Association of Playing High School Football With Cognition and Mental Health Later in Life.” JAMA Neurol. August 2017.