Here I go again-sticking my pen where it does not belong. I am not a football fan. I have been told how good it was that I had daughters, not sons.
However, of all the things there are to say; out of all the posts I have half-written in my head—football has floated to the top this week. Of course, I have strong opinions on the controversy that began with Colin Kaepernick’s calling attention to the injustices suffered by minorities. But the tweet that sent me over the edge was not about knees. It was about brains. Yesterday there were tweets about how “soft” football has become. The hits are not hard enough. The players are too afraid of head injuries. Regulations are ruining the violence inherent in football. Since football is a religion to some, I suppose it is not surprising that many want it left alone.
A recent study of brains donated by deceased NFL players found chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in 99% of subjects. The brain of Aaron Hernandez, the former NFL player who was accused and convicted of murder and ultimately committed suicide in prison, was described by neurologists as having a severe case of CTE-similar to the brain of an old man who had played football for many decades. (Unfortunately one of my daughters, suffered a traumatic brain injury-not from football, but in a car accident. She has spent 28 years in a coma.) I admit I don’t understand the attraction of violent hits to the head. Would the kind of violence that President Trump wants back in football be rated PG-13 if it were in a movie theatre? There was a unanimous outcry against putting dogs in a ring to fight. Yet many fans wish for more aggression in football and hunger for more shots to the head. That says a lot about values. A mind is a terrible thing to waste—even for entertainment.
Written by Margaret Pendleton & published with permission.
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