Michael Gorman, Ph.D.

Document Type


Original Publication Date

November 2018

Publication Date



Through the analysis of data pooled from multiple studies, we identify the relationship between participation in athletics and the likelihood of developing a mental illness or brain injury and how this may impact the longevity of an athlete’s career. Using data from various studies, we find that the prolonged exposure to athletics results in a higher likelihood of developing a psychological or neurological illness both in the short and long term. Additionally, we find that this is often the result of accumulated injuries, both neurological, such as concussions, and physiological, such as tearing muscles or breaking bones. The results, however, suggest that youth, high school, collegiate, and professional athletes, alike, are more likely to experience sports-related depression or anxiety, misuse prescription drugs or develop addiction, or suffer from diseases such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, all of which are actually unlikely to impact the length of their careers.

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