The retired footballers are often exposed to the risk of developing various neurological problems. In fact, those problems are likely to crop up at a very young age. Many football clubs and associations are concerned about the same because they management system may have to deal the consequences of the medical condition, raise due to the neurological issues. The problems are also in reflected on the footballers’ performance, as they mature. In fact, several talented and skilled players are bound to opt for early retirement due to the same. Hence, it is a major problem for the sport management, as well. The experts proclaim that the traumatic brain injury is the number one cause of the neurological problems. After all, they are explicitly prone to repetitive head trauma. On the other hand, in comparison to the amateurs, the professional athletes are the top-most victims of CTE, i.e., chronic traumatic encephalopathy from several brain injuries and concussions. The record says that almost 3.8 million cases occur in United States, each year. At times, these injuries become the cause of early-retirement, for a large number of footballers. In this research paper, it will be analyzed how the athletes become victims of various injuries during their matches, especially in the football tournaments. The regular professionals are prone to higher rate of nerve damage than others. On the other hand, it is also the responsibility of the football clubs’ management to look after wellness of theirs. It is due to the rate of decreasing talented football players, for severe nerve damages.
Statement of the problem
The above-mentioned issue is important because only a handful of young players are participating in this genre. On the contrary, best of the professional players are also deciding to take early retirements. Thus, the entire industry is under strict scrutiny, due to the mentioned reasons. Alternatively, the early researches have made the footballers as well as the managements aware about concussions. As a result, further researches are required to find a missing link between the early-retirement rates and neurological conditions of the football players. The issue had already been studied by many scholars, previously. However, they have been instrumental in highlight the fact, merely, in bits and pieces. Resultantly, there is still a scope for researching on the topic. It will also help the football associations to take adequate precautions while the players are on the field, so as to avert the risk of getting major injuries in any part of their bodies.
History of concussion related to sports has surged in the past era. One of the biggest reasons for discontinuing sports participation is neurological disorders. There are many life-altering inferences because of it. The risk enhances when young athletes get injured in the fields. On the contrary, the healing capacity and condition determine the decision to retire. For instance, if the patients recover fast then chances of getting selected for future tournaments boosts, while delayed or complicated cases are deemed to ruin an athlete’s sport career. Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada (2014) stated, sometimes, the management teams remain biased about their favorite players and that is why, it is more complicated for the neurologically injured ones to come back in the leagues. Hence, it is also devastating for their careers. Conversely, the footballers oftentimes give head blows. Right from the high school, college players to the National Football League, it is quite evident. Thus, a link can be established between the brain diseases, which are largely neurological in nature and the head blows. Even similar symptoms can be seen for the boxers and soldiers. Many reports claim that the NFL players such as Ralph Wenzel, Ken Stabler, Bubba Smith, and also Dave Duerson encountered similar problems. Another player Frank Wainright also died from bleeding in his brain, thereby leading to heart attack. Before his death, for the last 8 years he undergone frightening symptoms of behavioral changes, memory loss, and confusion. The time when Wainright played, league was more lenient regarding the formulation of rules and regulations, in regards to the concussions. In fact, many cases of concussions occurred during his time. Not only the players have to go through the episodes of depressions but also their families are drastically affected by it. The researchers of Brain bank documented that the high school players aged within the 18 years often displayed various symptoms of CTE or the medical condition itself. Other cases of retirement can also be seen. For example, Chris Borland decided to leave football, as his career to avoid the risk of acquiring nothing but a fatal brain disease. At times, other severe neurological problems can also crop up abruptly. Interestingly, he decided to leave the field after going through a report on neurological diseases and their connections with the football career, as discussed by AAOS (2018). For instance, he found that a causal link definitely exists between the degenerative brain disease and the head injuries, manifested from the football rounds. His decision was explicitly supported by the teammates, concussion researchers, family and friends. In his interview with the ESPN, he proclaimed that it is not worthy risking health for the sake of his passion, football. Borland also announced that he would rather enjoy a healthy life of higher tenure instead of dying young from any fatal neurological disease, according to Rettner (2015). Arguably, it also portrays that the management members of the leagues and football associations must choose to give their players best of safety precautions to pursue career in the same stream, without causing any major threat to their health. Growing awareness amongst the players, researchers, and the family members of the athletes may compel the sports managers to opt for better management systems, in order to make the athletes secured in this field.
It can be seen from the above-arguments that the football’s future is extremely uncertain. The sports itself has become a subject of scrutiny, due to its disadvantageous façade. A damaged brain can be price that a player pays for his or her passion for football. Annual figure of sports-related concussions is somewhere in the range of 1.7 to 3.9 million. Every season, the football players also suffer from sub-concussive and small injuries. They are mild shocks which shake the brains, to a smaller extent. However, those hits are not potent enough to rise above the full-blown concussion levels. Some of the consequences that are short-term include the fatigue, confusion, memory loss, and headache. In majority of the cases, these problems resolve within a few days. The research suggests otherwise, as stated by Tanner (2017). Even though the symptoms may subside yet their residue lingers in the nerves of brain, for a long time. They are extensively held responsible for the cause of psychiatric and neurological problems, in the latter part of their lives.
The Illinois-based lawmakers and New Hampshire’s school board members have gone to the extent of announcing that it would be better to ban sports for both the teenagers and children, for their detrimental effects on the brain and other neurological problems. Alternatively, the doctors and scientists argue from both sides of the fulcrum. According to them, there is no such solid evidence persistent for the degeneration of the brain, due to football-related head hits.
A study also argues that neurological problems may not be merely linked with football or other similar sports, rather it can have vivid link with the genetics as well. The repeated trauma is often due to hereditary diseases instead of other things. However, the contradictory study shows that the respondents who were healthy and refrained from playing football in any time of their lives did not have any abnormal brain activity unlike their counterparts, as proclaimed by Fuller, Junge and Dvorak (2012). In a similar manner, occurrence of Lou Gehrig’s disease and Alzheimer was at least 4 more times high in the players of NFL when compared to the general populations. Victoroff (2013) expounded, it cannot be denied that the chances of depression and other psychological issues are large amongst the people suffering from neurological problems, even the one caused due to sports. In other research, it was discovered that the white matter of the brain could get easily damaged by the concussions. They are the tissues which help in forming the insidious cables in the human brains, thereby allowing various regions of it to interact with one another. Psychologists found during their researchers that the brain’s white matters are intricately linked with depression. The head hits cause the blood brain barrier to open widely, which allows S100B, a brain protein to rush into the blood stream. Later, this protein is assumed to be antibody for the body. Thus, if the same thing ultimately travels back to the brain, it causes attack. The link has also been built between the memory decline, dementia, and other diseases with neurological damage in the brain, as the authors of ESPN (2017) mentioned. Therefore, the high school athletes who play must refrain from the same. It can also impact their studies, as well. Being students, they can actually lose their interest in studies because of degrading memory power.
Broglio et al. (2014) mentioned that on the contrary, football is also a high-contact sport, which immense strength is needed from all parts of the body, including the head and others, where the neurological connections can be quite strong and dense. As a result, it may ultimately lead to chronic and irreversible damages. It also shows that the decisions of many players to leave their career are not completely unjustified.
The discussions in the literature review section show a major concern of head injury can plague the minds of several players and their dear ones. Slowly and steadily, the sports managers are facing a challenge to retain the players, whether they are professional or amateur athletes. Moreover, football is one of those sports which earn a high amount of revenue from the audience and the sports-lovers. Even giant corporates such as Nike and Adidas also tie-up with the football leagues to enhance their revenue and enhance their chances of visibility amongst the public. For instance, the renowned players have their own fan base (Abbas et al., 2015). On the contrary, the international tournaments such as FIFA World Cup and Euro Cup earn a hefty amount from the global viewership. In such a scenario, if the best of personalities in the football world leave this field due to the threat of injury then chances of landing-up in a deep soup can increase, mostly for the sports management teams of the famous leagues. Hence, instead of shying away from accepting the fact of neural degeneration, caused due to the football, it is better to increase the awareness amongst all the stakeholders and take precautionary measures. For example, the management must address concussions by rolling out passive injury prevention tactics (Sundman, Doraiswamy and Morey, 2015). In fact, head safety measures may also work out fine. There is hardly any practice of wearing helmets during the tournaments, for the football athletes. As a result, bring out such norm can retain a large number of players. On the other hand, the awareness amongst various football sportsman can actually assist them become cautious regarding their health. At times, the players may refrain from wearing the helmets due to their self-conscious image of heroism in front of the audiences. Therefore, the safety measure has to be introduced as a rule, for playing in the leagues. It will compel the players to address their health, before anything else. Secondly, the family members of the sportsmen will also feel encouraged to support the players. It may therefore, the strategy may decipher a double-beneficial regime. Preserving the interests of the football players in this sport is mostly the in the hands of sports managers and other football associations than anyone else. Alternatively, it cannot be said that every stakeholder has to be extremely caution regarding the efforts he or she makes. Lastly, more scientific evidence can play a major role in the creation of awareness amongst one and all.
It can be inferred from the above-discussion that sports management is extremely tricky. After all, there is a responsibility to balance both the retention of the players and their safety, at the same time. The study all depicts how several scholarly articles have come up with the evidences of link between the head shots in football and the neurological damages. These hurts can be sometimes, innate and deeply-rooted in brains. Thus, they manifest in older ages, more often. The younger athletes are at higher risk of losing their memory or delve into depressive state, if they get severely hurt. On the other hand, conditions such as dementia and many more degenerative diseases can flare up. Hence, more protective methods have to be familiarized in the genre of sports, who are arranging the same. In order to do so, the management of sports academies, associations, and different clubs have to take this in their own hands. For example, they can definitely provide the players head gears to protect the softer part of their brains. Additionally, their spinal cords must also be thoroughly checked to detect any severe injury. As a result, the fitness test should include a broad range of medical examination, right from their ability to remember to the normal activity pertaining to the brain.