Brandi Chastain’s Decision To Donate Brain Is A Win For Women In Sport

Soccer legend Brandi Chastain has pledged to donate her brain for chronic traumatic encephalopathy research.

The 47-year-old, best known for her 1999 World Cup-winning penalty kick and the shirt-doffing celebration that followed, highlighted the move on Thursday as an important step in understanding how youth sports may affect development of CTE.

“If there’s any information to be gleaned off the study of someone like myself, who has played soccer for 40 years, it feels like my responsibility — but not in a burdensome way,” Chastain told The New York Times.

Conditions like CTE, which are linked to repetitive hits to the head, can only be diagnosed after death. It manifests itself in ways that can include cognitive disorders like memory loss and mood disorders like depression and rage.

Chastain is the most high-profile female athlete to promise her brain to researching the disease, which has largely been associated with football players and boxers. However, the evolving level of play in women’s sports is likely to bring scrutiny to the impact on female athletes.

“The women who play at the professional level and the elite level, even these young kids, they give as much as the guys,” Chastain told the Times.

Ann McKee, director of Boston University’s CTE Program which has a collaborative brain bank with the Concussion Legacy Foundation and the Department of Veterans Affairs, told USA Today that examining female athletes’ brains was a crucial and under-explored study area.

“We currently know so little about how gender influences outcome after trauma,” McKee said. “Her pledge marks an important step to expand our knowledge in this critical area.”

The brain bank has examined 307 brains, but only a fraction have belonged to women. Robert —> Read More