Friday, September 19, 2014
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 evanream3@gmail.com 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

    UC to create $250 million venture capital fund

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

     
    School district may redevelop downtown site

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

    Grant means new push for moving tracks out of town

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Some say council needs to reconsider MRAP

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    Man faces arson charge in huge California wildfire

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    DUI suspected in crash

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Master Gardeners share their wisdom at free workshops

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Scots vote to stay in UK

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    France strikes Islamic State group’s depot in Iraq

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Project Linus seeks donations

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Rabid bat found at Holmes Junior High

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Students invited to apply for Blue & White grants

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Telling tales, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Halloween costume sale benefits preschool

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Volunteers sought to make veggie bags

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Woodland Healthcare offering flu shots

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Storyteller will draw on music, dance

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Putah Creek Bike Path to close temporarily

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Little Free Libraries open at Montgomery

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

     
    Nonprofits can get DCN’s help

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Register to vote by Oct. 20

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Free workout class set at library

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Explorit: Lots of ways to be a volunteer

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Sierra Club remembers longtime walker

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    DHS Classes of 1954 and 1955 will hold 60th reunion

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Davis maps available at Chamber office

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Reception benefits endangered gorillas

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Downtown history tour planned in October

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Davis hosts its own climate change rally

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Sutter Farmers Market offers local goods

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Wolk applauds approval of stronger rules for olive oil

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Qigong classes available for heart health

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    .

    Forum

    Sick of being the bad guy

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Save the ‘pine cone place’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Affirm our community values

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Project has safety risks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Learn more about Paso Fino

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Educate homeless with dogs

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    Cheers and Jeers: Not the end of the rainbow

    By Our View | From Page: A6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Return to previous plan

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    No rest for the weary: Aggie TE Martindale busy on and off the field

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devils hope the light bulb turns on at Edison

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    River Cats and Giants sign two-year deal

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Blue Devil volleyballers hold off Herd

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggies’ new energy could be scary for Big West

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Mustangs are no match for DHS boys in water polo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    Take Zona and Bama this week

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

     
    A’s slide continues as Rangers sweep

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    Name Droppers: Awards keep coming for UC Davis retiree

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    Redesigned 2015 Escalade remains breed all its own

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, September 19, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Real Estate Review

    Featured Listing

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

    Professional Services Directory

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

    Taylor Morrison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

    Malek Baroody

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Norcal Land

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

    Robin Garland

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

    Dana Hawkins

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Lynne Wegner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Martha Bernauer

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Joe Kaplan

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Remax

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Melrina A Maggiora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

    Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Julie Leonard

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

    Kim Eichorn

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Lyon Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Jamie Madison & Associates

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Marcelo Campos

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Julie Partain

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Kim Merrel Lamb

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Bob Bockwinkel

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Juan Ramirez

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Chris Snow

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    James Hanna

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    Raul Zamora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    Susan von Geldern

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    Travis Credit Union

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20

    Jamie Madison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Tracy Harris

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

    Lisa Haass

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

    First Street Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER24