Public Health in Professional Sports



These last two weeks have been especially great for Bay Area sports, both as professional athletes on the field (Go Giants!) and their roles as civic leaders off the field.

With television crews catching Kobe Bryant’s and Joakim Noah’s homophobic outbursts, it’s a breath of fresh air to see athletes standing up against the anti-gay culture in professional sports. The San Francisco Giants, followed by the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, have posted videos on the It Gets Better Project website.  For those who haven’t caught wind of this organization, its members and supporters are dedicated to helping “young people who are lesbian, gay, bi or transexual see how love and happiness can be a reality in their future” through supportive and encouraging videos. All it took was one person to get the World Series Champions to get the word out. Perhaps the UMSPH community can join in on this project in the near future.

The second tidbit of sports-related public health news I’d like to share is from the San Francisco 49ers organization. The brains of Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson have been donated to neuroscientists at Boston University for the purpose of studying head injuries in sports. These players’ families believe that their loved ones had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This is a disease that is found in individuals who have suffered multiple head injuries and results in the degeneration of brain tissue and accumulation of tau proteins. Currently no cure exists for CTE, but hopefully the research being conducted at BU can help find clues to assist doctors in spotting this disease in living individuals (and one day find ways to treat it). If you’re the least bit curious as to what an epidemiologist does, this is one application of our field 🙂

One thought on “Public Health in Professional Sports

  1. It is good to see that professional athletes support the welfare of the public by doing civic activities off the field. They are really a great inspiration to us and many people will surely follow their lead for a better community.

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