NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Local father works to save kids from sports-related brain injuries after his own son's death

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Posted at 4:43 PM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 16:10:04-04

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Bruce Parkman’s right leg is covered in tattoos reminding him of his son Mac.

“I figure if I’m hurting. If I’m in pain. I’m closer to my son,” Parkman said.

Parkman said he didn’t know the mental pain his son Mac was in when the 17-year-old took his own life.

“He was an amazing boy. Handsome as all get out. Generous. Loving.”

After Mac’s death, his dad wanted answers.

He talked with doctors and did hours of research.

Parkman said he discovered his son’s mental illness was likely caused by years of playing sports. Not from concussions, but from what’s known as subconcussive trauma.

“The continuous and relentless pounding of the brain, in practices from contact sports like lacrosse, rugby, soccer, heading the ball. Football. American football is what’s changing the brain as it’s developing and all those changes are negative in their outcomes.”

To help others, Parkman, now living in Manatee County, started the Mac Parkman Foundation.

“It’s not the concussions that took my son to walk off a hundred-foot cliff and kill himself. It was the 10 years of sub-concussive trauma that over time greatly affects developing brains and results, and we have 30 years of research plus, that results in mental illness.”

He is supporting efforts to have kids wait until they are at least 14 to play contact sports.

“We are converting tackle programs, and rugby, football over to touch and flag football. There are small things we can do. We have to prioritize our kids' brains and their future and their potential and that’s my mission in life.”

Several NFL stars including Drew Brees have spoken out against the dangers of kids playing tackle football.

Parkman doesn’t want anyone else to have to go through the pain of losing a child.

“I miss him every day. I’ll see him again. I ain’t worried about it. I miss all of him.”

For more information visit the Mac Parkman Foundation here.