Despite the fact that no one really knows what it means to have CTE, the effort — intentional or not — to create mass hysteria regarding the consequences of a potential CTE diagnosis is working.
According to ESPN’s Outside The Lines, more former football players want to be tested for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in the wake of recent news that the condition has been discovered in multiple former NFL players, including Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett.
The article states that researchers from UCLA and a company known as TauMark, which has developed a brain scan that supposedly spots CTE in living persons, have been “inundated” with inquiries. (Two paragraphs later, William Weinbaum of ESPN.com writes that “well over 100 former players” have contacted the program, which makes the use of the term “inundated” seem a little strong given the total number of former NFL and college football players in America.)
Regardless of the characterization, folks understandably are curious about whether they have CTE, even though no one yet knows what it actually means to have CTE.
As Dr. Matt McCarthy wrote last month for Deadspin, a potential for panic currently exists among current and former players who fear that a time bomb softly ticks inside their skulls. For those who don’t have symptoms, what will it mean to be diagnosed with CTE?
No one currently knows.
Meanwhile, the folks from TauMark (including well-respected and incredibly relentless and successful lawyer Bob Fitzsimmons, who represented Mike Webster in his effort to get disability benefits from the league for head injuries) have established — intentionally or not — the kind of scarcity mentality that will get people to line up to purchase that which they can’t.
“We’re not advertising and not commercially open for business,” Fitzsimmons told ESPN.com regarding TauMark. “We’re still in the study phase.”
Translation? Folks will be digging deep to be the first on the block to get a CTE scan, and it’s inevitable that the search for microscopic protein buildups of undetermined consequence in the brains of football players will spread to folks who have played other sports involving repeated contact with the head, like boxing and mixed martial arts and soccer and hockey.
Yes, someone finally has found a way to cash in on the CTE craze, and it’s far more sustainable than a book that barely tries to mask the agenda of making its authors into a modern-day Woodward and Bernstein who bring down Richard Nixon’s favorite sport.