With soccer on the minds of many as the U.S. women’s national soccer team gets ready to take on Germany on Tuesday in the semifinals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the topic of concussions in soccer also is heating up.
The Safer Soccer campaign, which raises awareness of the risks of heading soccer balls before the age of 14, recently announced support from a list of experts that include U.S. soccer greats Kristine Lilly and Julie Foudy.
They join former U.S. soccer players Brandi Chastain and Cindy Parlow Cone, who are featured in an HBO report on “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” Parlow Cone says she started seeing the effects of repeated headers toward the end of her career.
“Every time I headed the ball, I would see stars,” Parlow Cone said in an interview with Mary Carillo.
Parlow Cone added she suffered headaches, pain in her jaw and fatigue, symptoms she says have “never gone away.”
The HBO report comes on the heels of a feature in The New York Times on Curtis Baushke, a high school soccer player from Tennessee who died last year of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. Baushke, who was found to have bipolar disorder, had claimed he was knocked unconscious three times during his 14-year soccer career. A few months after Baushke’s death, Boston University’s CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) Center determined he had Stage 2 CTE, the Times reported.
The CTE Center works with the Sports Legacy Institute, the nonprofit organization dedicated to brain trauma research and prevention in athletes and other at-risk groups. The Sports Legacy Institute and the Santa Clara University Institute of Sports Law are founding organizations of Safer Soccer.