The CTE Blog

Helping Save Our Children from CTE

“Hey Coach, just thought you should know…”

“Hey Coach, just thought you should know…”

So here’s the question…Should you reach back and tell “coach” that you’re suffering?

Your football career ended in high school or college.  Now, it’s ten years later and all of those “hits” you took over the decade you played tackle football have come back to haunt you. You are showing so many of the symptoms: sudden anger, depression, anxiety, memory loss, impaired judgment, suicidal thinking, substance abuse issues, and the list goes on. Those “glory days” have long since passed, leaving behind a trail of difficult, troubling times.

You were tough back then, and you played hard and gave it all you had. You took thousands of hit. Unbeknownst to you, they left your brain damaged, and, later, your life broken.

Today, you know what caused all this suffering, although, sadly, you have no way to change the past. But, perhaps you can change the future for others.

How would you feel about reaching back to the coaches you had along the way (or those who have replaced them) and tell them what you’re experiencing?

In spite of their often debilitating suffering, so many of the athletes we encounter are extremely motivated to help others. They want to do whatever they can to prevent other athletes from experiencing the brain damage that has cost them so much.

However, we find numerous coaches who are not interested in changing their behavior or practices. They continue to promote the same mantra “do whatever it takes” to field a winning team. Perhaps they are making changes in technique, or certain rules, but their job is to build athletes and train them to win. “Play hard or go home!” is their guiding mission.

But wait, maybe something could be different – maybe you and your old teammates could make that difference, or at least begin a new conversation.Coaches need to know what’s going on with their athlete alumni “after the cheering stops.” Hardcore football enthusiasts often chose to ignore the emerging reality that the brain is more fragile than we ever knew. And, while they may scoff at the “hysteria” surrounding the subject of CTE, suggesting the only alternative to full-on tackle is a sedentary life of video games and nachos, they need to hear – and truly understand – just how misguided that thinking is.

It’s former athletes such as you that have the power to hold up the mirror and speak the truth about concussions and CTE. Perhaps your story, combined with others, will bring the problem we face more clearly into focus. Multiple sub-concussive blows can and do set up the brain for failure. And the longer you play, the more exposure you have, the greater the chance of brain damage. You know this because you’re living it.

Maybe, when “coach” hears your story, he’ll consider making substantial changes. Maybe he’ll eliminate hitting in practice like the Ivy League schools and the NFL. And, just maybe, he will open his mind to Flag Football in the early years to spare precious minds. Maybe, by hearing your plight, he will begin to really understand the gravity of this horrible disease that is a direct consequence of his actions.

We know CTE is 100 percent preventable. We just need everyone to understand that.

You gave him your all back then, he needs to hear from you now. We need you to tell him. Reach out to him. ” Hey coach, it’s me, I think you should know………”
You will save lives.

Doug Zegel

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