We knew that the powerful reporting in Frontline's program League of Denial would have a strong impact on viewers, and in a survey WGBH learned that the coverage on concussions has affected many of you, especially the way many parents view their children's participation in organized sports.
Viewers who watched the show, based upon the book League of Denial by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, took either a survey aimed at football fans or families. Your answers gave us insight into how news about the long term effect of concussions will most certainly influence how contact sports are played—or not—in the future.
There is so much pressure in my football-focused town to get all boys involved in peewee football at age 7. My son, 6, will NOT be involved. -J.R., Boston parent
Other Sports that Concern Parents
More than 80 people who took our survey directed at families told WGBH that examining the impact of concussions on kids should expand beyond football, and that soccer is the organized sport that concerns people the most.
Out of the over 200 reported concussions in our high school last year (in a school of 2000 students), not one of them was reported by a football player. Is there a league of denial among high school football coaches and staff - or worse, parents?
-A.R., Acton parent
Reports Affect Fans' View of Football
To sports fans, WGBH asked specifically, after watching League of Denial, whether or not what you know now has affected your level of interest in the game as a football fan and if you thought the future of football is in jeapordy. With a smaller set of answers, it is still clear that concern from most fans clouds their enthusiasm for the game.
It can be harder to enjoy (watching football) knowing the long term damage. I used to think a concussion was like any bruise, it went away without further impact.
-D.T. in Boston
Ongoing Coverage May Affect the Future of Football
Spurred by Frontline's reporting, WGBH's News began looking into how new information about concussions will affect sports for kids and adults. Reporter Adam Reilly looked at companies developing new technologies to make contact sports safer, and took a closer look at proposed Mass. legislation that would require monitoring students who play sports with baseline testing.
Taking a closer look at who is doing the safety advocacy work in New England, Emily Rooney spoke with pro wrestler Chris Nowinski, co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine, who is dedicated to solving the sports concussion crisis. Drawing from his own experiences as a former Harvard football player and WWE professional wrestler, Nowinski wrote the book, Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis.
What started with investigations into the suffering of several retired NFL players has already had wide-reaching effects and prompted many discussions about safety. WGBH will continue to follow the story and bring you news as it develops.