On Aug. 30, I was standing on American Leadership Academy’s high school football eld in shock. My younger brother got hit on the last play of the game and was laying on the eld.
When the play happened, I didn’t think much of it. He’d taken that same hit what felt like a million times in that game. I kept waiting for him to get up and for everything to be fine, but he kept laying there and with each second pass- ing, I felt more and more uneasy.
Finally, I walked onto the field to see what was going on. At this point I thought he broke his leg, his rib, or something like that. When I got close enough to where I could hear what the trainer was saying to him, my heart dropped. “Can you feel this?” “Try and move this?” The trainer kept saying to him. He would try and move his feet, but they wouldn’t move. They had cut his jersey off and unscrewed his helmet.
I watched in horror as they did this to him and I had thoughts like, “Is he going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life?” He ended up being okay. Thank goodness, but for three hours, it felt like the worst nightmare you can have about the sport of football, a game that I’ve loved since I was born and my family has loved and been a part of for decades was about to come true.
The nightmare that football fans across the country always say, “well, that’ll never happen to me.” It felt like it had finally happened to some- one obviously close to me and because of that experience I don’t think I’ll ever see the game the same again.
Football’s fun moments top any other sports’ fun moments. The thrill of scoring a touchdown. The thrill you have after a big win. The feeling you get before a big game, etc. This goes for both when you play football and when you watch. The problem with football though is what it brings when it’s not those moments.
Football brings risks that no other sport does. One bad hit and you may never be able to walk again. I think everyone is aware of the risks of playing football. Some people know the risks, but love the sport so much that it doesn’t affect their want to play let alone watch the sport for entertainment value.
My family and I fall into that camp. Some people stick to watching the game and decide that playing it is too risky. I feel bad for how I saw those people when I was younger. I could never understand not wanting to play football. Football is football. It’s the best! How could you not play? I could never wrap my head around that until I got a concussion. Even when that happened, it didn’t stop me from playing the next week.
Then less than a year later, I got concussion number two. That’s when I realized the true risks of playing football because I don’t think I ever returned to the same person I was before the second concussion. It’s been proven that people can get CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in college.
When Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski tragically took his own life, studies came out later that he had CTE. He was 21 years old. This was ground breaking to me be- cause it’s been known for a while that many football players that had died later on in their lives had CTE, but when it came out that a 21 year old did, I was shocked and terrified. “21? That’s around my age.
I’ve had multiple concussions and struggles with anxiety and depression. Do I have it?” I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a thought that I’ve had at least a few times. It’s fair to ask, “Does football kill people?” You could say yes or no to that, but football undoubtedly causes CTE, so in a sense, yes football kills people.
I’m not going to sit here and say that you shouldn’t play football, or even watch football because even after this happened to my brother, I was on the couch the next day watching hours and hours of college football. I think people need to know the risks and weigh them for themselves. I love football. Football is a part of me, but as long as the sport of football is people running full speed at each other and hitting each other as hard as they can, it’s going to be a dangerous game, no matter how fun the good moments are.