The Glory Has Departed From Football

When the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines, the daughter-in-law of High Priest Eli went into labor and died in childbirth.  Before she expired she named her baby Ichabod, which means “Where is the glory?” (See 1 Samuel 4:19-22 NLT)

         For me, the glory has departed from football.  It’s Ichabod all over again.  But the reason isn’t because many of the football players are taking a knee during our national anthem as a social protest.  I’m not angry at the foot ball players.  I feel sorry for them.

         Several months ago I rented a DVD called CONCUSSION. In that movie, Actor Will Smith plays Dr. Bennet Amalu, the man who discovered CTE—Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.  After I watched the movie, I bought and read the book called TRUTH DOESN’T HAVE A SIDE, written by Dr. Bennet Amalu.  Now I really feel sorry for football players, so much so, it’s just not fun to watch them injure their brains.

         In case you have not heard of CTE, I’ll explain briefly.  The brain floats inside the skull.  A football helmet protects the skull but not the brain.  While the helmet’s padding protects the skull from being cracked in a true concussion, the brain hurls forward and slams into the skull.  No one sees this injury, but it essentially cracks the brain itself.  Dr. Amalu explains, “The brain is most vulnerable during this kind of impact because the brain essentially floats inside the skull.  When the body abruptly stops, the brain continues to move until it slams against the inside of the skull.  When the Jell-O-like soft brain that is 60 to 80 percent water hits against the inside of the skull, the microscopic support structures of the brain fracture slightly.  Even more damaging is a hit that is off-center, which causes the brain to experience rotational acceleration where the brain essentially spins within the skull, resulting in sheering damage.” (Page 146) As the brain tries to make repairs these little cracks and rips that happen on play after play start filling with something that’s like plaque. The end result is a brain that doesn’t work right, leaving the football player in a state of misery that no medicine can fix.  Dr. Amalu writes, “The tau tangles and amyloid plaques resembled Alzheimer’s disease but did not look exactly like Alzheimer’s disease.” (Page 145)

         A woodpecker has a very long tongue that actually wraps around its brain so that as it pounds its beak into a tree the bird’s brain is completely padded and suffers no harm.  But the human brain has no such protection.

         More and more facts are coming out about CTE, so much so that some High Schools are cancelling their football programs because not enough boys want to play. Parents are wising up to the fact that playing football is a one-way ticket to a brain damaged life. 

         If you are a parent or grandparent, can you really cheer on your son or grandson to make those hard hits, to jump up like a man, now that you know his tender brain is being slammed against his skull and that cracks and rips are occurring in the brain itself?  Like I said, the glory has departed from football.

         Dr. Amalu writes, “I have met or heard from countless grieving mothers who have told me how their sons’ behaviors drastically changed.  These young men went from having energetic, intelligent, outgoing, vibrant personalities to being withdrawn and depressed.  Men as young as the early twenties struggle to remember something as simple as where they live.  They erupt in sudden outburst of anger, becoming violent when they have never been violent before.  To their family members, they look the same on the outside, but inside something has changed.  The man they once knew is gone because his brain has been permanently altered.” (PG 174)

         Here’s my point.  If you are letting your son play football you’d better get informed, FAST.  Watch the movie, read the book, and google CTE to see the most current stories.  The more research that is done the more proof is found that almost all football players are suffering permanent brain injuries.

         Is that fun to watch? No.  I feel sorry when I see their heads slamming into the ground and I know what’s happening.  It’s so sad.  Have your son try out for tennis, golf, basketball or baseball, swimming, table tennis or cross country running because the glory has departed from football.


Wes Daughenbaugh