Nov 21, 2016
MD Urges End To Football

Earlier this month, Nicholas Wright, a retired epidemiologist, spoke to the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee in Williamstown, Mass., urging them to suspend high school football in the district in order to help stop “an epidemic in slow motion.”

“The science is telling us that we may be putting the brains of our sons and grandsons at risk — and that’s not what schools are about,” Wright said, as reported by MassLive.

According to, Wright presented evidence on the effects of concussions in football, saying that football had a much higher risk than other sports. He accused the NFL of denying concussions, likening it to Big Tobacco denying cigarettes’ health risks.

“In effect, with regard to concussive and subconcussive blows to the head and their causal relationship to premature dementia, depression and other adverse neurocognitive outcomes, we are where the tobacco and cancer story was in the mid to late 1950s, when tobacco companies were still claiming that any relationship to multiple cancers was ‘mere statistical association,’ that is, not causal,” Wright said.

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Chris Dodig, a member of the committee, said he was hesitant to take Wright’s advice.

“I certainly agree that concussion is a big problem, or traumatic brain injury, whatever name we give it,” Dodig said. “I’m pleased it’s coming out of the background. But I think your argument does not take into account the value Americans place on freedom of choice.”

Wendy Penner, another member of the committee, said she found Wright’s comparison to tobacco to be accurate, but that the committee could not impose change on the issue of safety in sports. She believes the school district should consider how best to educate parents and the rest of the community about concussions.

“The leadership on this is not going to come from professional football,” Penner said. “It’s not going to be a top-down change. It’s going to come from growing awareness at the grassroots level of the level of the risks.”


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