Sports medicine

Junior Seau's brain disease puts NFL gladiator mentality into perspective

Junior Seau was the ultimate gladiatorHopefully the results of Junior Seau's Brain disease study will help us to understand the NFL gladiator mentality and make the game of football safer.

The NFL gladiator mentality

In ancient Rome gladiators performed armed combat entertaining audiences in grand outdoor stadiums. Crowds cheered as they watched gladiators compete in violent confrontations with other gladiators.  The gladiators value as entertainers was celebrated throughout Roman culture.

Much like gladiators football players entertain fans in grand outdoor stadiums for the honor of their team and their cities. Much like gladiators part of the game that excites the fans are violent hits on individual players.  Football stars are celebrated and their value as entertainers permeates throughout American pop culture.

Junior Seau was the ultimate gladiator 

Junior Seau was a linebacker in the National Football League known for his passionate playing style. Seau played college football at the University of Southern California. The San Diego Chargers took Seau with the fifth overall pick of the 1990 NFL Draft.

Seau was celebrated as a star for 13 seasons with the San Diego Chargers.  Seau also spent three years with the Miami Dolphins, and four years the New England Patriots. Seau was a 12 time Pro Bowl selection, and named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team.

In 2012 at the age of 43, Seau committed suicide with a gun shot wound to the chest. It was generally believed that Seau spared his head so it could be studied.

Studies by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) concluded that Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a type of chronic brain damage caused from many blows to head during his NFL career.

Why are performance enhancing drugs illegal?

Should performance enhancing drugs be accepted in sports?

As a society we have an obligation to maintain public safety.

In our lifetime we often make decisions where we must identify risks and assess risks. If something has the potential to cause you harm, you should be aware of the risks.

If an athlete is clearly made aware of the risks, should they have the right to use substances created in the laboratory to enhance their performance?

But that's not fair!


As a society do we have an obligation to maintain fairness? Isn't science and technology already creating a competitive edge for those who can afford it?

What about the athletes that have armies of scientists, nutritionists, coaches, and physical therapists choreographing their every move?

Sports medicine has progressed so much in recent years, but does every athlete have the same access to these advancements?

Does a third world athlete have access to the same nutritionists, the same scientists, as someone from a more developed nation?

What about the families that mortgage their future, put their lives in hock to give their child athletes access to world class trainers who are known for developing world class athletes?

Is it fair?  Do you care that it is fair?

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