Bears fans react to debate over concussions

In light of recent high school football player injury, PBS documentary, and NFL settlement, fans share thoughts on game’s violence.

October 11, 2013

Flickr/Mike Morbeck
File: Chicago Bears.

A senior football player at Lane Tech high school remains in critical condition today after suffering a severe head injury at last Friday’s game.

It’s the latest, and perhaps most local, in a string of news stories about football-related brain injuries.

On Tuesday, PBS FRONTLINE began airing a much-anticipated documentary, called League of Denial, based on a book by the same name, about football’s connection to long-term brain damage.

Some say the documentary, and the companion book by Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada, could fundamentally change how people view the game of football.

WBEZ wondered what kind of impact the overall debate has had on local football fans. We headed to Soldier Field two hours before kick-off Thursday night to find out.

Here’s what a few Bears fans had to say:

“(The NFL is) doing a lot to improve the game, but it’s a little too late for the guys that have been playing for 20, 30 years.” - Paul Loftus

“It changed the perspective a little bit, but we love football. We’re a football family.” - Chris French

“I think everybody, before they get into high-level football, should be aware of the risks. But I think, everything in life is kind of a risk-reward decision. So (players) should be aware of the risk before they make their decision, because I feel like up to this point, it’s been a lot of, we don’t really know how bad concussions are, but now they know.” - Val Pinskiy

“If I had a son, I would look at the way, they play football. But as far as watching a game, that’s what you pay for. They’re kind of like gladiators.” - Kurt Schlickman

What do you think about the link between football and long-term brain damage? Has it changed how you view professional football? College? High school? Pop Warner?

Have you seen the PBS FRONTLINE documentary? What did you think? Note: League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis airs again tonight, Friday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. on WTTW. Find other local times here.

Share your thoughts in the comment section below or e-mail WBEZ producer Becky Vevea at bvevea@wbez.org.

Monica Eng contributed to reporting. Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her @WBEZeducation.