The goal of a writer is to bring eyes to their information/opinion to draw eyes for advertisers who in turn pay for the publishing of the article – in a very cut and dry manner. With the troubles facing sports, particularly football, more and more articles have hit the interweb; often the most cited are those that trample on our beliefs of sport.
George Will penned an article that did just that as he opined that football should be ended because it cannot be “fixed”, a growing belief amongst some. I am here to tell you that although football has its issues and concussions are high on the list, this is the case with many other sports; hockey, lacrosse and soccer being some off the top of my head. Will does have some salient points;
After 20 years of caring for her husband, Easterling’s widow is one of more than 3,000 plaintiffs — former players, spouses, relatives — in a lawsuit charging that the NFL inadequately acted on knowledge it had, or should have had, about hazards such as CTE. We are, however, rapidly reaching the point where playing football is like smoking cigarettes: The risks are well-known.[…]
Furthermore, in this age of bubble-wrapped children, when parents put helmets on wee tricycle riders, many children are going to be steered away from youth football, diverting the flow of talent to the benefit of other sports.[…]
The lawsuits have nothing to do with the risk of injury, they have everything to do with whether the league knew about the long-term risks during that time and did not disclose that to the players. The injury of concussion can occur outside of sports, in fact the majority of concussions come from recreational activities like: skate boarding, back yard touch football, playgrounds, bike riding and driving. Even if the lawsuits are a reason for canceling football at all levels, based on stats Will is – in my opinion – connecting the dots for removal of all activities that might result in concussions – turn in your driver’s license.
The second statement and thought is one that is growing and I have personally seen, but there is a solution for that and one that is rather simple. My opinion and beliefs – that tackle football should be restricted to high school and up – are backed up by much more powerful and prestigious people;
“You don’t need to play tackle football until you’re 13 or 14, because you can learn other things about the game,” Levy said. “Part of (more awareness), in my opinion, is how players are more closely monitored and there are more medical people around. They are more cautious. I think in youth football you shouldn’t overdo the contact.”
Age and maturity limits will not only expose MORE kids to sports (which can help with the obesity issue) it has the possibility of fostering a love of the sport that will create more respect for players and the game. Along with that, bad – better described as horrible – techniques and habits formed when the body was not capable of performing the proper techniques will be gone. Thus, when a player gets to “better” coaching at the high school level they will be prepared and not have the years of improper coaching and techniques to correct. Which simply makes the game better and SAFER.
I do not agree with George Will that the game cannot be fixed, I don’t know if I go to the extreme of Eric Golub;
Mr. Will would know that the information fans and the league have at their disposal is better than it was fifty years ago. The game has become safer as technology has improved. Therefore, the players playing today should have a reduced level of the problems we see today among retired players now. Using Will’s logic, we should give up on 21st century medicine because the doctors could not save Abraham Lincoln. Life is about progress. Just because his columns remain static does not mean the rest of the world stagnates.
Using Will’s empty analytical scenario, his column should be banned. After all, nobody in society benefits from anything he has to say. He is willing to shut down an entire multi-billion dollar sport and put thousands of people from athletes to owners to peanut vendors out of work. Why should he be gainfully employed? He and I are both opinion writers, but I at least have the decency to admit my irrelevance in the bigger picture.
Mr. Will says football cannot be fixed. What he really means is he cannot figure out how to fix it. Therefore, since he is the smartest man on Earth, his inability to fix something makes that something unfixable.
I do think that Will and others that are advocating banishment of sports based on the concussion issue painting a picture with an extremely broad brush. This issue is relatively new, in terms of fixing it, it takes time – which is of the essence – but steps are being taken. It would be better if leagues, associations, etc., would take more proactive steps like this proposal for high school football (the pros and colleges already do it and its FREE), however the more pressure from the George Will ilk will only help to make these moves a reality. If I have learned one thing about life it is that the squeaky wheel always gets the grease, even if it’s a VAST MINORITY.