Local athletes react to Chris Borland’s early retirement

Aside from concussions, study finds football not more dangerous than other sports

Chris Borland’s decision to retire early may have impacts as far-reaching as the local level in south-central Wisconsin.

Coaches and players at Mount Horeb High School sounded off Tuesday on Borland’s announcement.

“It was really surreal because he hadn’t gotten a concussion before, and I was in shock,” said Nathaniel Osterloo, a senior football player at Mount Horeb.

Osterloo has been playing the sport since 4th grade but has yet to suffer a concussion. Next year, he’ll suit up on the UW-Whitewater campus. While Borland’s retirement has not impacted Osterloo’s own decision to play at a collegiate level, he said he does have a new perspective now.

“It takes a lot of guts to say, ‘I’m quitting football,'” Osterloo said. “I have a lot of respect for him moving on and saying, ‘I’m worried about my health and I want to have a good rest of my life.'”

“You kind of wonder if this is – is this going to be a watershed moment?” said Travis Rohrer, head coach at Mount Horeb.

Both agree Borland’s decision could change the face of football and bring safety front and center, but Rohrer said that change might have already started.

“For at least the last seven years, [football] has been changing,” he said. “You look at the way we practiced in 1993 compared to the way we practice now. It’s night and day.”

Borland’s announcement did make Rohrer think twice about what age he will allow his younger children to start playing.

“As a coach you want to make sure you’re putting your kids’ best interests at heart. Being a father of two young boys, we want to make sure this is as safe a game as can possibly be,” he said.

Directors at the WIAA told News 3 they respect Borland’s decision, but they added the sport is safer than ever from a high school football standpoint, and the association’s rules continue to progress to keep kids safe on the field.