Argumentation Students take CTE Head On


The student view of the debate, held in the William Pitt Union.

Jake Heinauer, Editor-In-Chief

On Friday, November 7 students in Mr. Kane’s CHS Argumentation class headed down to the University of Pittsburgh to take part in a debate on whether children should be able to play contact football before High School because of the effects of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

Students spent a week of class time studying CTE, “a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head” as defined by the Boston University, to prepare for the debate. Students participated in the debate by watching, live tweeting, asking questions, and voting pre- and post-debate.

The affirmative (children should NOT play football before High School) was led by, former All Ivy Harvard defensive tackle, WWE wrestler, and co founder of the Sports Legacy Institute, Christopher Nowinski. Nowinski promoted a message along the lines of “football is great but it can wait”. His message was enough to sway Senior Eleni Rapp who went in believing that football shouldn’t be banned for kids, however the argumentation student remarked that “Chris Nowinski swayed me to the affirmative side, although both side had very intriguing and valid points.”

The opposition (children SHOULD play football) was led by Dr. Joseph Maroon. Maroon has been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ team neurosurgeon since 1981, he is also one of two developers of the imPACT test( the world standard to assess sports related concussions). The neurosurgeon dismissed Nowinski’s argument as contributing little but hysteria among parents, doctors, and athletes. Maroon advocated for continuing to make the game safer, as well as promoting the benefits of football. Junior Danny Porter said he stuck with Maroon because the doctor “convinced [him] that that the benefits of football [teamwork, leadership, commitment, and competition] clearly outweigh the risks of CTE.”