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Is Football Glory Worth Potential Brain Damage?

Many consider football a religion in the south.

With that being said, many athletes will sustain injury after injury, just to don their jersey each Friday night.

But when is enough, enough?

"I don't want to be paralyzed for life over one year of football. But as long as nothing happens, I want to keep playing."

Cameron Heard stands on the sidelines at Northwest Whitfield High School football practice.  No helmet, no pads… he can only watch. He's benched for the season because of multiple injuries, including a concussion.

 "After every hit, my head started hurting worse and worse. Eventually, everyone was telling me I was getting up slower and walking sideways. It just really hurt," said Cameron.

Cameron pushes past the pain to live up to family expectations. Both his brothers are former Bruins.

"I kind of have big shoes to fill, I guess. But I want to be better than them."

But Cameron is different.

He has Spinal Stenosis, or a narrow spinal canal, giving him higher risk of injury. His coach teaches several tactics to keep Cameron and others safe. 

"When we're tackling, when we're doing anything, we tell our guys 'eyes to the sky,' because it locks your vertebrae in place and keeps you safe. Your eyes to the sky are a big deal. Anybody at any level of football will tell you that," said Head Coach, Josh Robinson.

Cameron's mother is a registered nurse. She understands the risks, but still allows Cameron to play.

"They're boys. They're going to get hurt whether they are playing football or basketball or climbing trees or riding bikes. So, I know there's a risk of him getting hurt. But boys are going to be boys and he loves football and basketball… so I let them play," said Kim Heard.

One Chattanooga neurologist agrees, many activities can cause concussions. However, he has seen one sport consistently send athletes to his office each fall.

"Clearly, football is and can be a violent sport," said Dr. Timothy Strait.

Dr. Strait says no medical testing can show evidence of a concussion.

"The diagnosis is made mostly by getting the story from the patient and people around that were eyewitnesses." 

The biggest risk is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. Patients with CTE suffer from  forgetfulness, depression, and sometimes, suicidal thoughts.

That risk is not confined to just college and the NFL. A recent study shows the G-Force of a hard hit to the head is the same for all players.

"But regardless, if you decide to play football, that's going to be something you may not be able to avoid," said Dr. Strait.

In his opinion...

"I would probably let my kids play football up until 5th or 6th grade, up through tag football. Then I might encourage them to play soccer or some other endeavor."

As for Cameron, his mom is on board, but they are waiting on the final opinion from the doctor.

Like most teens... he's living for today.

"I want to be with my team. I love my team. I love the bond we have between each other. They're like family."

Concussions usually take a few weeks to heal. Multiple concussions over time may never heal completely; which can lead to CTE and similar disorders.

It's important to keep in mind that football is not the only sport that can cause head injuries. Hockey, soccer, and many other sports can also lead to injury.

The bottom line for parents and kids is to have these discussions and decide what's best for their family.

By: Kelsey Bagwell
Is Football Glory Worth Potential Brain Damage?

Thursday, November 7 2013, 06:25 PM EST

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Sideline Wrap-Up Stories

Playoffs: Marion County Trounces Trousdale County - Nov. 21st

Playoffs: Rhea County Outscores Oak Ridge - Nov. 21st

Playoffs: Calhoun Crushes Cedar Grove - Nov. 21st

Playoffs: Notre Dame Beats McMinn Central - Nov. 21st

Playoffs: Rhea County Rolls Over Ooltewah - Nov. 14th

Playoffs: Marion County Hammers Jackson County

Playoffs: McMinn Central Defeats Red Bank

Playoffs: Dalton Defeats Salem

Playoffs: South Pittsburg Loses to Copper Basin

Playoffs: Notre Dame Wins Over Upperman

Playoffs: Hixson Beats Page - Nov. 7th

Playoffs: Red Bank Beats Bledsoe - Nov. 7th

Playoffs: Ooltewah Beats Stone Memorial - Nov. 7th

Playoffs: McCallie Beats Pope John Paul II - Nov. 7th

Playoffs: Rockwood Beats Boyd Buchanan - Nov. 7th

Gordon Lee Beats Dade - Nov. 7th

Ridgeland Beats Lafayette - Nov. 7th

NW Whitfield Beats SE Whitfield - Nov. 7th

Murphy Beats Swain - Nov. 7th

Andrews Beats Hayesville - Nov. 7th

Playoff Preview: Bledsoe County at Red Bank

Marion County Claims Big Win Over South Pittsburg - Oct. 31

Baylor Claims Big Win Over Father Ryan - Oct. 31

Boyd Bucs Shutout Silverdale - Oct. 31

McMinn Central Takes Win Over Chattanooga Central - Oct. 31

Heritage Wins Over Northwest Whitfield - Oct. 31

Hixson Shuts Out Brainerd - Oct. 31

Red Bank Hands a Loss to Tyner - Oct. 31

Calhoun Whips L-FO - Oct. 31

Bradley Central Take East Hamilton by 3 Points - Oct. 30

Ooltewah Comes Out On Top Against McMinn Co. - Oct. 30

Notre Dame Hammers Grundy County - Oct. 30

Lookout Valley Defeats Sale Creek - Oct. 30

Ooltewah Beats Cleveland - Oct. 24th

Bradley Central Beats Soddy Daisy - Oct. 24th

Hixson Beats Chattanooga Central - Oct. 24th

Ringgold Beats Coahulla Creek - Oct. 24th

Red Bank Beats Howard - Oct. 24th

Northwest Whitfield Beats Ridgeland - Oct. 24th

Boyd Buchanan Beats Sequatchie - Oct. 24th

Tyner Beats East Ridge - Oct. 24th

Rhea County Beats East Hamilton - Oct. 24th

Chattooga Beats Gordon Lee - Oct. 17th

Heritage Beats Ridgeland - Oct. 17th

East Hamilton Beats Soddy Daisy - Oct. 17th

Hixson Beats Red Bank - Oct. 17th

Signal Mountain Beats Chattanooga Christian - Oct. 17th

Brentwood Academy Beats Baylor - Oct. 17th

Gilmer Beats Southeast Whitfield - Oct. 17th

Sideline Wrapup Highlights - Oct. 10th

McCallie Defeats Baylor - Oct. 3

Notre Dame Tops Signal Mountain - Oct. 3

Boyd Bucs Win Over Grace Baptist - Oct. 3

McMinn Co. Takes Soddy Daisy - Oct. 3

Hixson Defeats East Ridge

Brainerd Hammers Howard - Oct. 3

Gilmer County Wins Over Ridgeland - Oct. 3

Southeast Whitfield Over LaFayette - Oct. 3

Dalton Defeats Creekview - Oct. 3

McCallie Defeats Ensworth - Sept. 26

Signal Mountain Defeats Bradley Central - Sept. 26

Marion County Beats Sequatchie County - Sept. 26

Rhea County Beats Red Bank - Sept. 26

Northwest Whitfield Beats LaFayette - Sept. 26

Southeast Whitfield Beats Heritage - Sept. 26

Calhoun Beats Ringgold - Sept. 26

Austin East Beats Brainerd - Sept. 26

Donelson Christian Academy Beats Boyd Buchanan - Sept. 26

Friday Night Football Preview

Ooltewah Defeats East Hamilton - Sept. 19

Red Bank Wins Over Central - Sept. 19

Marion County Hammers Lookout Valley - Sept. 19

South Pittsburg Tops Whitwell - Sept. 19

Ringgold Beats Gordon Central - Sept. 19

L-FO Over Murray County - Sept. 19

Brainerd Squeaks by East Ridge - Sept. 19

Walker Valley Defeats Bradley Central - Sept. 19

Ridgeland Defeats Dade County - Sept. 12

Ooltewah Defeats Soddy Daisy Trojans - Sept. 5

Notre Dame Defeats Boyd Buchanan - Sept. 12

Signal Mountain Defeats Red Bank - Sept. 12

Trion Defeats LaFayette - Sept. 12

LFO Defeats Coahulla Creek - Sept. 12

Dalton Defeats North Atlanta - Sept. 12

Chattanooga Central Defeats Marion County - Sept. 12

McCallie Defeats Siegel - Sept. 12

Rhea County Defeats Walker Valley - Sept. 12

Marion County Defeats Whitwell - Sept. 5

Signal Mountain Rolls Over Bledsoe County - Sept. 5

Cleveland Wins Over McMinn County - Sept 5

East Ridge Squeaks by Central - Sept. 5

Heritage Defeats LFO - Sept. 5

LaFayette Comes Out Ahead Against Gordon Lee - Sept. 5

Copper Basin Wins Over Silverdale - Sept. 5

South Pittsburg Hammers Sale Creek - Sept. 5

Gordon Lee Defeats Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe - Aug. 29

Ringgold Defeats Heritage - Aug. 29

Notre Dame Defeats East Ridge - Aug. 29

McMinn Central Defeats Boyd Buchanan - Aug. 29

Baylor Defeats Knoxville Webb - Aug. 29

Soddy Daisy Defeats Red Bank - Aug. 29

Hixson Defeats South Pittsburg - Aug. 29

Signal Mountain Defeats Tyner - Aug. 29

Calhoun Defeats Dalton - Aug. 29

Soddy Daisy Defeats Hixson - Aug. 22

Signal Mtn. Defeats East Hamilton - Aug. 22

Bell County Defeats South Pittsburg - Aug. 22

Silverdale Takes Big Win Over Lookout Valley - Aug. 22

Bradley Bears Win Over Polk County - Aug. 22

Walker Valley Wins by a Touchdown Over East Ridge - Aug. 22

Red Bank Wins Over Boyd Buchanan - Aug. 22

S.E. Whitfield Whips Coahulla Creek - Aug. 22

Chattanooga Christian Trounces Grace Baptist - Aug. 22

Area Football Coaches Season Outlook

Ringgold Advances to 3A Semifinals

Cleveland Loses in 5A Semifinals

South Pittsburg Advances to 1A Championship

Hixson's Season Ends on Missed PAT Try

Calhoun Rallies For 2nd Round Win

Ringgold Rolls Into 3-A Quarterfinals

South Pittsburg Rolls Into 1-A Semifinals

Cleveland Outlasts East Ham In 5-A Quarterfinals

Marion County Football Coach Resigns Amid Vandalism Controversy

Dade County Eliminated From Playoffs

Alexander Eliminates Dalton

Slade Dale Leads Ringgold Into 2nd Round

South Pittsburg Rolls Into 3rd Round

Marion Breezes Past Boyd-Buchanan

Notre Dame Gets Revenge at Polk County

Hixson Wins and Advances

Signal Mountain Loses in Overtime

Cleveland Rolls Past Rhea County

East Ham Gets First-Ever Win Over Owls

Baylor Gets D2 Playoff Win

Notre Dame Cruises To Playoff Win

Polk County Eliminates Sequatchie County

Rhea County Rolls Past Lenoir City

East Ham Slams Oak Ridge

Ooltewah Rolls to Playoff Win

Marion County Wins Playoff Opener

Silverdale Gets First Round Playoff Win

Signal Mountain Soars To Playoff Win

Hixson Beats East Ridge, Again

Is Football Glory Worth Potential Brain Damage?

Dalton Clinches Sub-Region Title

Ringgold Beats L-FO For Catoosa Cup

East Ridge Beats Howard, Hopes For Playoff Spot

East Hamilton Soars Past Bradley Central

Owls Fight Off McMinn County

Tyner Gets Playoff Spot With Win Over Red Bank

Boyd-Buchanan Shocks Silverdale in OT

South Pitt Makes It 8 Straight Over Marion County

Cleveland Student Athlete Honored

South Pittsburg - Marion Football Rivalry Takes a Nasty Turn

Mtn. View Chevy Player of the Week, Oct. 31

Bruins Win Battle of Whitfields

Trion Beats Gordon Lee

Late TD Gives South Pitt Win Over Polk County

Silverdale Stays Perfect With Shutout

Top-Ranked Ensworth Rallies Past Baylor

Tyner Wins at East Ridge

Rhea County Hangs On, Beats East Ham

Cleveland Fights Off Ooltewah

Mtn. View Chevy Player of the Week For October 24

Raiders Sneak Past Heritage

Bruins Win at Ridgeland

Dalton Rolls Past Ramblers

Silverdale 8-0 With Win Over Grace

Notre Dame Surprises Sequatchie County

Hixson Shuts Out Red Bank

Hurricanes Trounce Trojans

Tribe Dominates Bears

Whitwell Crushes Sale Creek

Catamounts Rally Past Bruins

Oakland Rolls Past Baylor

Rhea County Destroys Soddy-Daisy

Hurricanes Blow Past Cherokees

Owls Outscore Mustangs

Silverdale Stays Perfect

Cleveland Fights Off Bradley

South Pittsburg Rolls Past Boyd-Buchanan

Northwest Whitfield Wins Big at Heritage

Dalton Shutsout Ridgeland

Signal Mountain Rallies Past Notre Dame

Ooltewah Fights Off Bradley Central

Herndon Leads East Hamilton Past Cleveland

Baylor Makes it 6 Straight Over McCallie

Ram Train Rolls Past Central

Hixson Rallies Past East Ridge

Ian Jump - Sideline Spotlight

Whitefield Academy Hands Gordon Lee First Loss

Ringgold Outscores Adairsville

Chubb Leads Cedartown Past Southeast Whitfield

Marion County Outscores Sequatchie County

Silverdale Stays Perfect, Beats Sweetwater

Bradley Central Beats Signal Mountain

Ooltewah Sneaks Past Dobyns-Bennett

Tyner Blows Past Soddy-Daisy

Sideline Spotlight - Myles Smith

Ringgold Crushes Gordon Central

Dalton Gets First Win, Hands Gilmer First Loss

Marion County Mauls Lookout Valley

Hixson Runs Past Howard

Red Bank Shocks Central

Sequatchie County Beats CCS

Signal Mountain Soars Past Grundy County

Bradley Central Outscores Walker Valley

Cleveland Crushes Soddy-Daisy

Ooltewah Fights off East Hamilton

Sideline Spotlight - Ooltewah High Marching Band

South Pitt Handles Sequatchie County

Ringgold Loses to Central-Carroll

Central Surprises Marion County

East Ridge Shocks Polk County

Last TD Lifts Bradley Central Past Hixson

Walker Valley Rallied Past Rhea County

Ooltewah Fights Off Tyner

Signal Mountain Flies Past Red Bank

Baylor Blasts Brainerd

Sideline Spotlight - The Crane Family

Banks Leads Notre Dame Past Boyd-Buchanan

L-FO Beats Heritage

Gordon Lee Beats Coahulla Creek

McCallie Rolls Past PJP

Notre Dame Rolls Past CCS

Moore Passes East Ham Past Mustangs

Herink Leads Cleveland Past McMinn County

Hixson Rallies Past Tyner

South Pitt Crushes Sale Creek

Ooltewah Beats Soddy-Daisy

Sideline Spotlight: Ryan Goodner Marches On

McCallie Crushes McMinn County

Siegel Outscores Ooltewah

Zeman Leads Polk County Past Central

Signal Mountain Soars Past Tyner

Marion County Beats Bledsoe County

Hixson Shocks South Pittsburg

Gordon Lee Wins at L-FO

Ringgold Beats Heritage

Calhoun Bombs Ridgeland

Soddy-Daisy Rallies Past Red Bank

Walker Valley Beats East Ridge

Silverdale Outscores Lookout Valley

Baylor Blasts Howard

Polk County Fights Off Bradley Central

Ringgold beats Dalton in 3 OTs

Ooltewah rolls past Brainerd

East Hamilton Fights off Signal Mountain

Sideline Spotlight - Colin Rich

McCallie Outguns Cleveland in Season Opener

ThisTV High School Game of the Week

Win Free Bar-B-Que in the 2013 Sideline Wrapup Challenge

Calhoun vs. Jefferson at Georgia Dome

Oneonta At North Jackson

Wesleyan At Calhoun

Washington At Ridgeland

Ooltewah at Columbia Central

Boyd Buchanan at Knox Grace

East Hamilton at Giles County

Gordon Lee Vs. Walker

Gilmer At NW Whitfield

Pickens At Dalton

Silverdale At Knox Grace

Trousdale Co. At Marion Co.

Riverdale at McMinn County

Ooltewah at Lenoir City

Page Vs. East Hamilton

Notre Dame VS Hixson

East Hamilton VS Marshall County

Signal Mountain VS Page

McMinn County VS Bradley Central

BGA VS Baylor

McCallie VS St. Benedict

South Pittsburg VS Columbia Academy

Boyd Buchanan VS Rockwood

Ooltewah VS Anderson County

Kingston VS Polk County

Lafayette at Ridgeland

Central at Hixson

Silverdale At Grace

Copper Basin at Boyd Buchanan

Ooltewah at Walker Valley

Bradley Central At McMinn Co.

Grundy Co. At Notre Dame

Tyner At Red Bank

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