A Hard-Hitting Editorial

Ohio State University football player and wrestler Kosta Karageorge was found dead this weekend, having suffered a gunshot wound to the head — reportedly a self-inflicted wound.

Throughout his athletic career, Karageorge suffered from multiple concussions and, according to an article published on ESPN.com, experienced spells of confusion.

Considering Karageorge’s tragic death, perhaps it’s time we have a conversation regarding the entertainment we choose to consume. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate our concept of sports.

Each week, football players like Karageorge run into stadiums filled with a hundred thousand fans, largely to satisfy man’s hunger for violence. Two opposing sides run at one another in a passionate attempt to conquer land, our athletes sporting uniforms and painting their faces with eye black as they put their bodies on the line for our pleasure. Fans turn on their television sets and sit on the edge of their seats, greedily waiting for the game’s next big hit.

But it’s not just football that highlights our innate desire for violence. It is the most violent events in each sport — the events that lead to injuries like concussions — that elicit the loudest applause and the rowdiest cheers. It’s a hard hit in football, a fistfight in hockey, a car wreck in NASCAR or a knockout in boxing that gets the crowd into the game.

Let’s consider the effects of the events we are cheering for. A concussion can immediately lead to confusion, vomiting and nausea. And the negative effects of these concussions could subsist long after the initial brain trauma occurs. According to medicalnewstoday.com, “there is abnormal brain wave activity for years after a concussion, as well partial wasting away of the motor pathways, which can lead to significant attention problems.”

No one knows how large a role concussions played in the death of Karageorge, but one thing is certain: without the presence of violent sports, much of his suffering could have been avoided.

It’s okay to enjoy sports, but we need to explore ways to make physical sports, like football and hockey, safer. We must make every effort to protect our athletes and eliminate unnecessary acts of violence.

This initiative must start at the junior and high school levels when young athletes are learning the fundamentals. And hats off to programs, like the Heads Up Football program, that have already realized the importance of these initiatives and have taught kids to protect themselves while participating in sporting events.