Friday, April 17, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Concussions in football: The information is finally out there

By
From page B1 | December 17, 2013 |

* Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series examining the effect of concussions on participation in high school football, specifically in Davis and especially now that the long-term effects are well-known. Today, we report on the recent advancements in the public’s knowledge on the subject.

“If only 10 percent of mothers in America begin to conceive of football as a dangerous game, that is the end of football.”

— Joe Maroon, Pittsburgh Steelers team neurosurgeon and the co-developer of ImPACT, a computerized concussion evaluation system

Tyler Poland was the most excited he had been in his entire life. After three years of Junior Blue Devils and junior varsity football, he was finally entering his first varsity season as a junior at Davis High School.

It was the fall of 2007 and the Blue Devils were playing in a preseason jamboree at Foothill High in Sacramento.

On a routine defensive play in one of the scrimmages, Poland came up against an offensive player who was much bigger than he.

“I was fairly inexperienced, and it was my first year on varsity,” said Poland, who was a free safety. “I didn’t think about my (tackling) technique, and I received a pretty bad shot to the head trying to tackle the guy.”

Poland, then a tall, blond rock of a teenager, crumpled to the ground upon contact. He was concussed.

“That (concussion) took me out the whole season, and from then on I was considered susceptible to getting another one,” Poland said. “The trainers did a good job that year monitoring my injury, and they kept me out the whole season as I had ongoing symptoms for an extended time.”

Though discouraged, Poland was determined to play football again.

But four games into his senior season, his football career ended against Armijo.

“Near the end of the game I came up to make a tackle, broke down with good technique, and the other player lowered his head into mine,” Poland said. “I remember being very disoriented, and the coach noticed right away and took me out of the game immediately.”

Poland was transported to a hospital where he underwent a battery of neurological tests to determine if he was OK.

Despite being cleared by doctors to return to the field later that year, Poland called it quits after talking it over with his parents.

“I got cleared by the doctors outside of school, but the athletic trainer at the school suggested I don’t play. That was his personal opinion,” Poland said. “In the back of my mind I didn’t feel like it would be a very good idea (to return). Plus, I got knocked out for the entire year the year before. I just didn’t want to go through that again.

“I don’t regret it. I think it was the smart decision.”

He played just four regular-season games in his entire varsity career while receiving two concussions.

Unfortunately, stories like Poland’s aren’t rare; concussions are ubiquitous in football, a necessary evil.

“Kill the head and the body will die.”

— Former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the main culprit in the Saints’ bounty scandal, an illegal pay-for-performance program where Williams paid his players for knocking opposing players out of the game.

On Jan. 18, 2007, eight months before Poland began his high school varsity career, The New York Times published a front-page story linking concussions and repeated blows to the head sustained while playing football to long-term brain damage.

The story cited the chronic traumatic encephalopathy found in the brains of three deceased former NFL players. This condition was a result of the repeated blows to the head that these players had suffered over their lengthy NFL careers.

Two of them committed suicide: one by drinking antifreeze, the other by a gunshot wound to the head.

CTE is defined as a progressive degenerative disease of the brain that can cause memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression: the symptoms of dementia.

Jan. 18, 2007, was the day that the long-term effects of concussions and their link to CTE hit the mainstream media.

Since then, numerous studies and reports have corroborated this information. As of December 2012, 33 of the 34 brains that have been collected from deceased former NFL players since then have been diagnosed with CTE by the Sports Legacy Institute, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that studies brain trauma in sports.

On Dec. 20, 2009, The New York Times reported that the NFL had acknowledged long-term concussion effects associated with football. It was the first and last time the league would acknowledge this.

On Aug. 29, one week before the first game of the 2013 NFL season, a pending lawsuit involving roughly 6,000 former NFL players or their family members was settled out of court; the NFL awarded $765 million in damages.

The brain damage caused by repeated blows to the head in football isn’t limited to just NFL players. Links have been made to players much younger, even prep athletes, according to “League of Denial,” a book by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, which documents the history of concussions and CTE in football.

“Most players are going to get this,” Ann McKee, the neuropathologist for the Sports Legacy Institute, said in “League of Denial.” “It’s just a question of degree.”

ESPN recently reported that an NFL-funded study showed that high school football players are nearly twice as likely as college players to suffer a brain injury.

Given the length of time that concussion information has been available to the public, The Enterprise set out to answer three questions:

* Since the issues linking repeated blows to the head in football to permanent brain damage were reported by the mainstream media in 2007, has the participation in high school football, most notably Davis High School football, declined?

* If participation is declining, what trends among the data can we analyze?

* What are the feelings of Davis parents with eligible kids in regards to their children playing high school football?

The Enterprise’s findings will be reported in the next two installments of this series.

— Evan Ream is a freelance journalist based in Davis. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanReam. Steve Legé and Karen Thome contributed to this report.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Psychedelic rock posters recall 1960s concerts

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    UCD study: Crickets not enough to feed the world just yet

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A1

    It’ll be a perfect day for a picnic — and lots more

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Turning a mess into olive oil success

    By Dave Jones | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    UCD expands emergency notification service

    By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A2

     
    California vaccine bill stalls; will come back next week

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Cities: California water reduction order unrealistic, unfair

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Bob Dunning: Chasing criminals and water-wasters

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Enjoy a chemistry bang on Picnic Day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Start your Picnic Day with pancakes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Local students to perform at fundraising concert

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    CA House hosts crepe breakfast

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Doxie Derby crowns the winning wiener

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Fundraiser benefits Ugandan women

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    See pups at Picnic Day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Davis poet will read his work at library

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

     
    Rotary Club hosts whisky tasting

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Ribs and Rotary benefits local charities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Dodd plans fundraising barbecue in Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Soroptimists set date for golf tourney

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Socks collected for homeless veterans

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Council will present environmental awards Tuesday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Invention and upcycling to be honored at Square Tomatoes Fair

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Take a peek at Putah Creek on daylong tour

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Pence Gallery Garden Tour tickets on sale

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    UC Davis Circle K Club wins awards at district convention

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Davis authors featured at writing conference in Stockton

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Sign up soon for Davis history tour

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Campus firearms bill passes Senate committee

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Emerson featured at photography program

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Portuguese influence in Yolo County detailed

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Concert and dance party celebrate KDRT’s 10 years on the air

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Survival skills to be taught at preserve

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    .

    Forum

    The new one puts her foot down

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

    It’s time to fight for California’s jobs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Future leaders give back

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    Know where your gift is going

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Pipeline veto a good move

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    Artists offer heartfelt thanks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    .

    Sports

    DHS boys drop another Delta League match

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie women ready to host (win?) Big West golf tourney

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    New strength coach hopes to stem UCD football injury tide

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Herd has too much for Devil softballers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Les, AD Gould talk about the Aggie coach’s future

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    UCD roundup: Quintet of Aggie gymnasts honored for academics

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    River Cats fall to Las Vegas

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

     
    Diamondbacks defeat Giants in 12 innings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B12 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    DSF kicks off 10th anniversary celebration at the carousel

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

     
    Many summer enrichment opportunities available for students

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

     
    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

    .

    Arts

    ‘True Story:’ In their dreams

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    ‘Once’ an unforgetable celebration of music, relationships

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    Honda shows off new Civic at New York show

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Ruth Rodenbeck Stumpf

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Robert Leigh Cordrey

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, April 17, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B10