Sorry to bring everyone down from their Sunday Seahawks high, but the question must be asked in light of mounting evidence that football is a dangerous game: Would you let your son play football?
Whether you have a kid or want to answer this hypothetically, here’s a quick poll:
Regardless of your answer, the NFL is here to stay. Americans adore football despite dire warnings from scientists that football has caused long-term brain damage in some players.
- Last week, PBS’s investigative series “Frontline” broadcast a two-hour program on this topic. Here’s a link to a brief, must-see visual interactive explaining how Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy has affected at least 50 players as young as 17. Watch the program below:
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- Author and New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell wrote a thought-provoking and influential piece in 2009 comparing football to dogfighting. He has not let up on his criticism of the game, as tracked in this August report from The Atlantic.
- On Friday, The New York Times’ editorial page published a fascinating guest column by Gregg Easterbrook, author of “The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America.” in which he argues President Obama needs to get involved in reforming the game today, just as former President Theodore Roosevelt did in the early, bloody days of football. Easterbrook writes that Roosevelt’s involvement made college football less brutal and led to the creation of the NCAA.
When I was an undergrad at USC, I attended my fair share of games. So many traditions on the way to the Coliseum! Pete Carroll was head coach. Our team was awesome. Many of us probably can’t imagine the college experience without football.
These days I don’t watch football as much, but when I do — a feeling of guilt lingers. It’s hard to watch these guys play their hearts out and know that they could be sacrificing their long-term health for short-term wins.
If I had a kid, would I let him play? No. But that’s a personal decision every family has a right to make. We shouldn’t tell parents what to do, but our schools and recreational leagues must educate these players on the risks associated with the game. Teach them to play safely and fairly.
Be honest about the consequences.