Raising Awareness this Super Bowl Weekend

5:33:00 PM

For the first time in my life, I am living in a city where the NFL team is making it to the Super Bowl.  I'm pretty excited about watching the Broncos take on the Seahawks.  Both teams are so likeable: Peyton Manning seems like an amazing human being and seeing him win another Super Bowl would be incredible while the Seattle Seahawks have a young team with incredible talent plus they have the first hearing impaired NFL player in history on their team.  Although I'll be cheering for Denver, I won't be disappointed if Seattle wins.  

Even though I enjoy watching the game and get swept up by the pageantry and competition, it's hard for me to shake a pretty serious issue with professional football: CTE.  I recently watched League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis and it definitely left an impact.  If you haven't seen it yet I highly recommend watching it.

 It's a Frontline documentary about traumatic brain injuries (most notably CTE and concussions) in the NFL.  The sentiments expressed in the documentary mirrored a talk by Chris Nowinski I attended my senior year of college.  Contact sports, especially football, put players at an extremely high risk of traumatic brain injury.  These traumatic brain injuries can lead to a lifetime of mental problems.  This isn't just contact sports either, extreme sports like skiing and snowboarding have high risks of concussions and the potential for long lasting repercussions.  The Crash Reel, is another great documentary that follows professional snowboarder Kevin Pierce before, during and after a career-ending crash.  It discusses traumatic brain injuries for extreme sport athletes, discussing Kevin's struggle and the tragic story of professional skier Sarah Burke.

I mention this extremely depressing topic to raise awareness, not to rain on your Super Bowl parade.  We often forget about our brains and how fragile they can be.  Over the years so many of my teammates and friends have suffered from concussions. Hopefully, most won't have long-term problems associated with their concussions. As you watch the Super Bowl and in a few weeks the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, remember the sacrifice these athletes make not only to their bodies but also to their minds.  Hopefully, the athletes we watch and cheer for stay healthy and avoid a career-ending or life-ending injury.  Most importantly, remember to take care of your brain.  Wear a helmet when riding a bike, when skiing, or participating in any other "high risk" activity, learn about proper safety measures, and seek medical attention after a suspected concussion.

I hope I didn't bum you out to much.  I know that I'll be conflicted watching the game.  I feel guilt for supporting a league that doesn't acknowledge the danger for players but I also love the hype, the competition, and supporting my new "home" team.


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