Are Young People Aware of the Risks of Contact Sports?

Many parents say “no”.

An Eric Hamber Secondary School Griffins football player suffered a concussion that left him out of the classroom for a school year. With little knowledge of concussions, his teammates were left to decide whether or not they wanted to continue playing.

“The reality of it is, is it 100 percent safe? Nobody can make that guarantee,” says Griffins coach Bobby Gibson in an interview with the Vancouver Sun.

Gibson himself has been torn between his love for football and the potential hazards.

“I struggle with it all the time, and not just for the fact that I played football. But football is part of me: it helped make me the person I am today.”

The same conflict was conveyed in the PBS documentary, League of Denial, which discussed traumatic head injuries in the NFL. Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist involved in the study, loves football but says she would never let her children play the sport.

“You only get one brain,” she said. “The thing you want your kids to do most of all is succeed in life and be everything they can be. And if there’s anything that may infringe on that, that may limit that, I don’t want my kids doing it.”

The school board of Halton, Ontario became the first in North America to include the dangers of concussion in its health curriculum. The Vancouver School Board currently doesn’t have a formalized protocol for educating students on concussions.

“It’s definitely a serious issue. School staff spent some of our professional development day recently with people from the traumatic brain injury unit at Children’s Hospital discussing concussions. We’re trying to develop a protocol here,” says Gibson.

For More Information:

  • Pete McMartin: Concussions: What they don’t teach you in school, Vancouver Sun
  • League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis, PBS

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Michael Slater, K.C.
Michael Slater K.C. is the founding partner of Slater Vecchio. The majority of his practice is confined to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury cases.