This is another post written BC–Before Covid. But with so much time on our hands, why not talk about something other than our situation. And of course, it’s unlikely we’ll have football at all this year. So a perfect time to rethink it.
Few things are as American as football. Fans are fanatic about their teams. Tens of millions of dollars of ads support the support. It’s competitive. It’s masculine. It’s aggressive. It’s macho. It’s violent. It’s vicious.
Those are very good reasons to ban tackle football.
I can hear fans now, going crazy about that idea.
But don’t worry. Football will never be banned. The NFL and fans don’t care that much about the health of the players.
If they did? The game would be banned. Or made significantly less aggressive. Because the brains of concussed players (and many are) are being irreparably damaged.
It was 2005 when a pathologist first identified what’s now called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) . It’s a degenerative brain disease in which brain cells are slowly killed off. It’s found in those who have experienced repetitive brain trauma. Athletes suffer this brain damage disproportionately.
Kids as young as 17 have had this diagnosis, but usually, symptoms do not begin appearing until years after head impacts begin. Changes in mood, behavior and cognitive function are seen. As the disease progresses, victims can have problems with thinking and memory. Eventually, some suffer progressive dementia.
Earlier this year the NYTimes reported that a 21-year-old college football player suffering similar symptoms took his life after looking up CTE…and autopsy findings confirmed that his brain had the telltale plaques of the disease. He’d been playing tackle football for 11 consecutive years. Eleven.
Why is this acceptable?
American football is far too violent and dangerous. It should be banned.
Yes, I’ve heard all the arguments that these men are adults, it’s their choice. There are many reasons why this argument is problematic (mostly centered around money and our materialistic culture.)
But players are just pawns.
The real responsibility for these athletes being at such risk belongs to team owners and fans. The infrastructure that cares more about the game than about the players.
A few years ago I was discussing this with a friend who played arena football in his youth.
“Would you allow your teenage son to play football?” I asked.
“I do allow him,” he said. “There is no reason not to.”
No reason not to.
Wow. Just wow.