Well said. I'm as worried as you are about the punishment and lasting repercussions that we are learning more and more about. What worries me even more is the equipment many of these schools are using. The padding has been worn down in the helmets and the technology has not trickled down to the younger levels to offer the safety mandated at the professional level.
The sport, which I love, is in danger of becoming the 21st century version of boxing. It's not the sport nuts that wil drive this reform, it's the soccer moms, doctors, and neuro experts that will drive the change.
After all, boxing was a high school sport in the 30's...
The focus of efforts to make the game safer is to increase technology of the helmets. This is impossible because nothing will stop the brain from moving from shift in momentum.
What are your thoughts on removing the helmets which may slow the game down some, but may make it safer?
Very thoughtful post! The information and statistics now being published are indeed concerning and it does go beyond football. I know for girls, soccer is the sport where many concussions occur. There is another aspect to your post, though, that I have been thinking about.
I am an ardent sports fan - love my football, too. I have seen the many benefits of participation in athletics for kids in school (including my own daughter who went to college with help from a field hockey scholarship).
At this point, however, I wonder how long schools will be able to support any athletics. Given the extreme budget cuts and ever-increasing pressures on public education, I wonder if school systems will have to have only an 'education' focus and turn the sports over to communities? It seems, perhaps, that if we have limited funds priorities will need to be determined. I know many suburban school districts that spend a huge amount of money to field many athletic teams and they seem to be adding sports (lacrosse is a good example and boys lacrosse is very costly). I am not saying I think that is what we SHOULD do, but I am not sure how schools can continue to support athletics for much longer.
As a lifelong educator in Oklahoma (where football is a religion) student player injuries have always concerned me.
And now, my soon-to-be 13 year-old son LOVES playing football. And, because of his size, he is on the O-line and defense. Each morning after a game he hurts. Everywhere -- aches, pain and bruises. This cannot be safe. This cannot be healthy.
A couple of years ago I found out that state law in NH where I live requires that EMTs and an ambulance be in attendance at all high school football games. This raised a huge red flag to me. If the game is that risky are we really doing the right thing having kids play it?
I worry about studies like this. I look back on my high school football career with a lot of nostalgia and also a lot of appreciation for lessons learned on the field. It didn't "make me who I am today," but it taught me many lessons about hard work, athleticism, fitness, and teamwork that I still use today as a working professional. If they got rid of football or, heaven forbid, all sports, where will the next generation learn some of these lessons? I think Vince Lombardi and General MacArthur said it best when he said something like "On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days and other fields will bear the fruits of victory." To me that says athletics, and more specifically football.
I share your concern, but that's a tough sell in this country. After all, don't you live in the city that called off a football game due to snow and your own governor went ballistic?
The good news - if you can call it that - is at least high schools are much more aware of the issue now. We test all of our athletes cognitively before the year starts and then there is mandatory testing after any head injury. If the test shows impairment, they are not allowed to play until the test show they've recovered. Period.
That doesn't solve the problem, but at least it helps mitigate it some. While all sports carry some risk, this is one more instance where I'm glad I have a daughter so we won't have to make the football decision.
Been thinking a lot about the debate on concussions and youth football. I know a lot of people won't agree with me, but I think the whole thing has gone to a bad place. Naturally, there is nothing wrong with being concerned about your kids well-being and none of us wants anything bad to happen to our kids, physically or otherwise. However, is it really a surprise to anyone that football can be dangerous? And what's the conclusion? If its just that parents should have more info, that's fine. Or is it that we shouldn't let boys play football because they might get hurt? If that's the conclusion, we have to stop kids from playing a lot more than organized football. I've had three concussions in my life (I can hear the jokes now) and only one came from football and it was yard ball, not organized ball. The other came from Ultimate Frisbee, should we ban that? The last came from a rock while upside down in my kayak (yes, I had a helmet on). We can't prevent our kids from getting hurt. I think what is bothering me is that increasingly we seem to ignore that reality and think we can eliminate all pain. What about heartache? If our kids are ever going to get into relationships they are going to get hurt. For that matter, what about human connection at all - just the fact that they love anyone opens them up to loss. It might seem like that is not connected to the football debate, but I think it is. If are kids are going to live life, they may get hurt. Being informed of the risks is smart, but I want my kids to take risks - because that is what makes life worth living, IMHO
I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE NFL football, but am too concerned about the future of the game.
However, this won't be a problem that parents have to worry about for much longer.
Insurance companies will surely raise their rates through the roof now that there is little doubt of causality or liability. Schools and districts will quickly realize that the choice will be between keeping schools open or playing football.
In the 1932 classic film, "Horsefeathers," Groucho Marx (playing the head of the university) is confronted with the problem of affording both football and the college, so he picks football. Some schools may behave this way until THEIR Junior Seau dies tragically.