Saturday, October 19, 2013

Rethinking Football, While You Can Still Think

This is not going to be a popular post, even in my own family while the Chiefs and  Mizzou Tigers are today undefeated.  Oh well.

My husband and I watched "League of Denial" on Frontline.  League of Denial. The documentary explored the overwhelming proof of brain damage in the brains of deceased NFL players.  One young college football player, who committed suicide at age 21, has extensive brain damage (CTE - chronic traumatic encephalopathy) even though he had no documented incidence of concussion. The program explored Junior Seau's suicide, along with dementia, addiction, violence and suicide in many other football players.  The NFL appears to be engaged in a cover-up, disavowing responsibility while ponying up $765,000,000 in a class action settlement by former players and their families.

My husband argues, the players know what they are getting into. They know they might be injured.  While I agree that many players may realize they are subject to traumatic arthritis and joint point as they age,do you really think they knowingly go into a job realizing that there is a probability they will experience brain damage which may cause personality changes, dementia and suicide. Plus, football players don't start playing as adults. They start playing football long before college. Sure, the boys playing football have the permission of their parents. But, do these parents really comprehend the real danger of brain damage to their children.

Sure, football is exciting and we have a sense of camaraderie in rooting for the old college or city team. It's great fun to tailgate. Why, in Kansas City passing Arrowhead Stadium hours before the game provides great olfactory pleasure, with the aroma of barbecue filling the air.  But, what are we really celebrating. Do we realize what significant brain damage risks there are to pro and amateur players alike.

Some people make a lot of money from football.  The NCAA, NFL, team owners and colleges can reap abundant riches, but at what cost?   Parents need to wake up. Football is not a safe sport for children. But, as long as there is such profit from the sport, it is not going away.  I know this viewpoint is not popular, not even in my immediate family. Watching gladiators die in the ring used to be popular, too.

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