In the shadow of the tragic murder-suicide at the hand of an NFL player last weekend, we'll be hearing more about something called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy—commonly known as CTE—which is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma.
ABC News reports this morning that it's not yet known what triggered the murder-suicide by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, "but they mirror other NFL players who have committed suicide."
In fact, a new study by researchers at Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy indicates that of 85 brains donated by the families of deceased veterans and/or athletes, 34 were professional football players that suffered from CTE.
In October, Boise Weekly examined new legal protections for young athletes, particularly football players, who engage in regular head-banging.
Idaho law now dictates that if an athlete younger than 18 years old "has sustained a concussion or head injury and exhibits outward signs of symptoms of such ... then the youth athlete shall be removed from play." The athlete is only allowed to return to play once he or she is "evaluated and authorized to return by a qualified health care professional who is trained in the evaluation and management of concussions."
Additionally, Idaho school districts are now required by the Idaho Athletic Association to train coaches to recognize the signs of concussions.
"There are both sides: Most of us played through an era when somebody might have had a concussion and they would be back in the next game," Matt Holtry, head football coach and athletic director at Homedale High School, told Boise Weekly. "But the good part is the new awareness. And the education part of it is huge. So the coaches all agreed upon the new protections."