Are You Ready for Some Football?

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

Junior_Seau_2Football fans around the nation are feeling the excitement grow as we again approach the NFL Football season. They are avidly watching their favorite team’s pre-season games, checking out the new rookies and preparing for their various fantasy football leagues by analyzing league rosters. NFL Football has become the preferred sport of the country and generates many billions of dollars. It is our budding empire’s version of the gladiator battles in the various Roman Coliseums that were spread across the Empire as a palliative to an enslaved populace. While it is true that the Roman Gladiator battles usually ended only by the death and dismemberment of the “losers”, the news of the physical and mental costs to pro football players has begun to receive more publicity of late. This is due to the realization of the lasting damage done by football head trauma referred to broadly as concussions. As someone who has watched the National Football League for perhaps 60 years the idea of a concussion is one that is intertwined with the sport itself. For much of that time while it was discussed openly by the game announcers, analysts and sports journalists, in truth they all made light of them and players themselves would cheerfully discuss “getting clocked” or “having their bell rung.” The players thus injured who would insist on returning to the game were seen as “real men” and “heroes” for their fortitude. Then too coaches concerned with winning would tell them to “man up” and their teammates opprobrium for them “relaxing” on the sidelines would add peer pressure to continue to play even through their disorientation and head pain.

As the sport grew and outpaced baseball as the nation’s “national pastime,” like the gladiators of old players became heroes with nationwide celebrity. Many noted how some retired players from era’s past seemed to die relatively early in life, especially considering that to play football one must be an excellent physical specimen. As fans we were also aware how many of our heroes’ sustained injuries that in their retirement rendered them somewhat physically disabled for life, but merely made passing note of this reality, rather than feel discomfort at what this violent sport was doing to those who played it for our entertainment. The truth is that football fans and football professionals celebrated the violence of the game, even while shedding “crocodile tears” for player carted off the field with terrible injuries. Coaches and players talked about the exultation one felt when they made a jarring hit upon another player. It was common in interviews for players to talk of the joy they felt “making contact”, a minor euphemism for hitting or being hit with jarring intensity. We are to my way of thinking no more evolved than those Roman Citizens who would excitedly vote “thumbs down” on whether a losing gladiator should receive the killing blow. Our social norms require that we “feel sad” about a terrible injury, but if it occurs to an opposing player and affects our teams prospects, only the most unaware would deny that in the back of their mind they are calculating what this injury will mean. Our consciences are salved by the fact that many football players get paid enormous sums of money for their skills and so from a legal perspective one might say there is an assumption of risk. I want to examine this “assumption of risk” and discuss the implications that it has for NFL, the players and for us the fans.Last year at this time, which coincides with the beginning of the NFL regular season, I wrote a guest blog that dealt with the “lockout” of NFL Officials and Referees, which had just ended after a debacle of a call on Monday Night Football. It was titled: “The NFL and What’s Wrong with America”:

http://jonathanturley.org/2012/09/29/the-nfl-and-whats-wrong-with-america/#more-54904  My premise was that the NFL as an entity of our Corporatist State was a microcosm of how this country has fallen under the control of a wealthy elite. As I’ve written many times my belief is that this “elite” seeks to establish in our country, if not the world, a modern version of the medieval feudalistic governance, with them as a new kind of nobility. This quote sums up my thoughts in the piece:

“The NFL as an organization is a member of the corporate elite, as are most of their team owners. They vie for Corporate wealth to buy luxury boxes at their stadiums and they mostly share an educational and social background with those plutocrats. What I think the Dean misses in analysis is that “Capital”, (i.e. the 1%) doesn’t really hold “Talent” in high regard either. “Capital” loathes talent because “Talent” has skills that allow them to treat “Capital” without the deference “Capital” thinks is due them.  How dare these “upstarts” try to get the better of me and my money they think?

Think about it. Why do billionaires like Bob Kraft (New England Patriots) and Woody Johnson (NY Jets) buy these teams? Sure they probably love football, but I believe there is also a psychological factor at play. To put it into somewhat gross terms human males have spent eons obsessed with whose penis is larger. We all know that this is mostly a metaphor for who has power over other males, or who is the Alpha? When you own a football team you are the boss to at least fifty male behemoths, who wouldn’t be there if they hadn’t been exceptionally Alpha males. When you’re the “Boss” that means that all your employees are subordinate to you. After awhile, or maybe even initially, given the egos at play, the “Boss” begins to see himself as the central figure on his team. Players and Coaches come and go, but the “Boss” remains in control. Players and Coaches are seen as just as “disposable” as the “Labor” that Dean Roger Martin  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/29/opinion/the-nfl-strike-and-modern-economy.html?_r=0   talks about. The demands of this “Talent” strike the “Boss” as effrontery and the “Boss” begins to believe that these “ingrates” to his munificence should be taught a lesson. This was really what the threatened “lockout” in the NFL last year was about. The leagues income kept rising, even terribly managed teams are being well rewarded and yet the NFL demanded “givebacks” from its players and to some extent got them. This was more than greed. This was a demonstration of penis size and a reminder to “Talent” of their place in the hierarchy.”

To me the NFL’s prominence can be seen as a metaphor for the changes that have come to American society. This was brought home to me by a news item that I came across this week that dealt with how the NFL had intervened to stop the partnership between sports network leader ESPN and the PBS investigative series “Frontline”, in producing a documentary on head injuries in the NFL:

“Pressure from the National Football League led to ESPN’s decision on Thursday to pull out of an investigative project with “Frontline” regarding head injuries in the N.F.L., according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.

ESPN, which is owned by the Walt Disney Company, pays the N.F.L. more than $1 billion a year to broadcast “Monday Night Football,” a ratings juggernaut and cherished source of revenue for Disney. “Frontline,” the PBS public affairs series, and ESPN had been working for 15 months on a two-part documentary, to be televised in October. But ESPN’s role came under intense pressure by the league, the two people said, after a trailer for the documentary was released Aug. 6, the day that the project was discussed at a Television Critics Association event in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Last week, several high-ranking officials convened a lunch meeting at Patroon, near the league’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters, according to the two people, who requested anonymity because they were prohibited by their superiors from discussing the matter publicly. It was a table for four: Roger Goodell, commissioner of the N.F.L.; Steve Bornstein, president of the NFL Network; ESPN’s president, John Skipper; and John Wildhack, ESPN’s executive vice president for production.

At the combative meeting, the people said, league officials conveyed their displeasure with the direction of the documentary, which is expected to describe a narrative that has been captured in various news reports over the past decade: the league turning a blind eye to evidence that players were sustaining brain trauma on the field that could lead to profound, long-term cognitive disability.”  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/24/sports/football/nfl-pressure-said-to-prompt-espn-to-quit-film-project.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&smid=tw-nytimes&partner=rss&emc=rss

The background for this is the fact that there are currently about 200, representing 4,000 former NFL players. Their contention is that the NFL hid information about head trauma from its players to both keep them on the field playing and to also limit its own liability for the injuries caused by this violent sport. From the perspective of the multi-billion dollar injury that the NFL has become these lawsuits, if successful could severely damage their “bottom line” and also expose the sport for the modern day gladiatorial contests it truly is. The repercussion of these lawsuits being successful would ripple through the entire structure of the football world, down through the college football, high school football and PeeWee football etc. About 6 months ago I heard Harry Carson, the great New York Giants linebacker and Pro Football Hall of Famer say that had he known about the seriousness of the head trauma he wouldn’t have played football and that he wouldn’t let his young grandson play the game. Clearly there are multi-billions of dollars to be lost and these lawsuits threaten not only those directly in the “football business”, but also those corporations that use football to promote their products.

With the advent of this “head trauma” awareness the NFL has tried to get “out in front” of the potential damage by instituting its own research into making the game safer, while at the same time downplaying its own role in ignoring what has been known to be a serious problem in their game. Let’s look at some particular stories:

“Tiaina Baul “Junior” Seau Jr. (/ˈs./; January 19, 1969 – May 2, 2012) was a linebacker in the National Football League (NFL). Known for his passionate playing style,[1][2] he was a 10-time All-Pro, 12-time Pro Bowl selection, and named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team.

Originally from San Diego, California, Seau played college football at the University of Southern California (USC). He was taken by the San Diego Chargers as the fifth overall pick of the 1990 NFL Draft. Seau started for 13 seasons for the Chargers before being traded to the Miami Dolphins, where he spent three years before four final ones with the New England Patriots.

Seau retired from pro football after the 2009 season. A standout on San Diego’s only Super Bowl team, he was later inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame and the team retired his number 55. Seau committed suicide with a gun shot wound to the chest in 2012 at the age of 43. Later studies by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) concluded that Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a type of chronic brain damage that had also been found in other deceased former NFL players.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junior_Seau

I used Junior Seau’s picture as the insert above. He was certainly a great football player and I enjoyed watching him even as he was demolishing my own favorite teams. Another tragic story:

“David Russell Duerson (November 28, 1960 – February 17, 2011) was an American football safety in the National Football League (NFL) who played for the Chicago Bears (1983–1989), the New York Giants (1990), and the Phoenix Cardinals (1991–1993). He earned significant honors during his career, including selection to four consecutive Pro Bowls for NFL seasons 1985 through 1988.

“Duerson was found dead at his Sunny Isles Beach, Florida[1] home on February 17, 2011. The Miami-Dade County medical examiner reported that Duerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.[6] He sent a text message to his family saying he wanted his brain to be used for research at the Boston University School of Medicine, which is conducting research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) caused by playing professional football.[7] He left behind three sons and a daughter from his marriage to ex-wife Alicia Duerson.[6] On May 2, 2011, neurologists at Boston University confirmed that he suffered from a neurodegenerative disease linked to concussions” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Duerson

A third story about the results of brain injury and the tragedies that follow some ex-football players after their retirement from the game:

“Ralph Richard Wenzel (March 14, 1943 – June 18, 2012) was a professional American football player who played guard for seven seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers.[1] Wenzel’s family, including his parents, two children and four grandchildren reside in San Diego, with his elder brother residing in Hawaii. Wenzel’s name has gained notoriety as of late 2009, when Wenzel’s wife, Dr. Eleanor Perfetto, testified on Wenzel’s dementia.[2] Perfetto testified that Wenzel’s football career probably had a causal effect with his dementia.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Wenzel

Wenzel’s widow, Dr. Eleanor Perfetto, was interviewed for a New York Times story last April. She details Ralph Wenzel’s deterioration as he lapsed into dementia and then Alzheimer’s caused by the trauma to his brain coming from years of playing football:

“The end of Ralph Wenzel as his wife knew him began in January 2007. They were descending a flight of stairs at San Francisco International Airport, on their way to the baggage claim, after a two-week trip to Hawaii. Symptoms of his dementia had been troubling during their vacation. Wenzel acted as if he had awoken in a strange place, surrounded by strangers. He did not recognize his wife, Eleanor Perfetto, or her parents. He braced himself and shook his big fists when they approached. He tried to run away. It had not been much of a vacation, she thought.

Wenzel started down the stairs, and Perfetto walked next to him, holding his hand. Six steps from the bottom, he stumbled. He fell hard and landed in a heap on the floor, blood spewing from a gash on his forehead. He stayed at a hospital in California for 10 days. Doctors would not let him board a plane because he was too volatile. They increased his medication, and he drifted further out of touch.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/09/sports/football/eleanor-perfettos-journey-coping-with-dementia-and-death-of-former-nfl-player-ralph-wenzel.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&ref=headinjuries

The deterioration and final death of this once superb physical specimen is detailed in the Times article. It is a too sad tale of a once splendid athlete and the end game of the physical trauma that he suffered as an elite athlete. There are many such stories to be told as the 200 lawsuits covering 4,000 former NFL players will follow the process towards settlement or dismissal. The NFL will be fighting this all the way through the courts and will have much support in the Corporate world, since the success of these lawsuits will affect everybody’s bottom line. There will be a ruling on the validity of these cases as to standing and other issues due from the presiding Judge by September 3rd. Until then all parties have been ordered by the Judge to go through a mediation process to determine if there is some grounds that can be found to settle the issues:

“The federal judge overseeing the case brought by thousands of former N.F.L. players who have accused the league of hiding the dangers of concussions ordered both sides to mediation Monday. United States District Court Judge Anita B. Brody, from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, ordered Layn Phillips, a retired federal judge, to serve as mediator in the case.

Brody said she would not rule on the N.F.L.’s motion to dismiss the case until Sept. 3 to give the mediator time to bring the sides closer. She had expected to rule on that motion July 22. Brody said she had an “informal exploratory telephone conference with lead counsel” Monday before referring the case to a mediator.

The league and the lawyers representing more than 4,000 players and their wives will now meet in a conference room instead of a courtroom to try to iron out their differences, which will not be easy given the complexity of the case.

The players have charged that the league concealed for years and even decades what it knew about the long-term dangers of repeated hits to the head. The N.F.L. has rejected that argument and said it had issued warnings consistent with medical research available at the time. It also claims that player safety was and is governed by collective bargaining agreements negotiated between the league and the players.”  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/09/sports/football/judge-orders-nfl-concussion-case-to-mediation.html?ref=headinjuries

I’m not sure which side will prevail in this battle, but it surely is of the “David vs. Goliath” type and my emotions are always with the underdog. Polls of athletes related to steroids have shown that overwhelmingly they would accept a shorter life span in exchange for fame. One wonders then that even if it was conclusively shown that playing football could result in a tragic life following ones retirement, would many gifted athletes refuse to play? Would they give up the status, fame and fortune that their football careers give to them? Does the idea that assumption of risk comes into play here absolve the NFL of any liability other than providing paychecks and medical insurance? Legally I don’t know how this will play out and so as I see it the issue devolves upon whether or not the NFL knew of the dangers of head trauma, yet failed to fully inform the athletes about it. My suspicion is that this is the case, but then I must admit that I watch football but have no love for the business entity that is the NFL, so my judgment is one sided. What do you think? Do these 4,000 players have a case and should they be awarded compensation for the damaged wreaked upon them from years of playing football? I know that as always I’ll be following my favorite team avidly, as I already am doing. So in the end we return to the question. Are you ready for some football?

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

47 thoughts on “Are You Ready for Some Football?

  1. Mike,

    Excellent article. In response to your final set of questions, I offer this observation. Almost no one appreciates the value of their health until they no longer have it and the psychology of the adolescent mind – and let’s be truthful here, a great many (but not all) football players are just that mentally – is that you’re invincible and will live forever. Steroids can further exacerbate those feelings of invulnerability. I submit that if asked before their careers, the vast majority would still say yes to glory. They’re not going to get hurt. That happens to other people. This is similar to choice blindness. But if asked once their liver starts to fail, or the concussions start to impair their memory, or they need huge doses of painkillers just to walk with a cane, I suspect it might be a different answer in retrospect.

  2. Well, I guess Great Minds just think alike! I wrote this poem the other day, and it is about conflicting sets of rules and incentives. There are a lot of studies and papers about “anomie” and sports, and here is one on the NFL. There are others:

    http://www.campbellsville.edu/Websites/cu/images/Library/Campbellsville_Review/Volume_2/carter_essay–anomie–revised–formatted.pdf

    And, since it had a football element, here it is:

    The Koan of Uncertainty
    or, Anomie Mine???
    by Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter

    The Cowboys in Dallas, aren’t Cowboys.
    That’s only the name of their team.
    It doesn’t convey any meaning.
    You can’t even call it a theme.

    The same thing is true up in Cleveland!
    Where folks watch the Indians play.
    But when those two teams met each other. . .
    I really don’t know what to say.

    The Indians stole seven touchdowns
    By grabbing the ball before snaps.
    The Cowboys mowed down the infield,
    By running some off tackle traps.

    The center got beaned with a curve ball,
    Receivers caught passes with mitts,
    While the short stop got a concussion,
    From helmet on baseball cap hits.

    The pitcher slid into the end zone,
    Feet first on fourth down in the dust,
    The baseball still on the one yard line,
    While umpires and managers cussed!

    The homedowns and touchruns were crazy,
    The whole thing did not make much sense.
    But Damn! It was fun and exciting!
    And the action was very intense.

    I guess you could say I learned something,
    I’m trying to figure out what.
    The only thing I can come up with . . .
    Without rules, a game you got. NOT!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  3. Excellent Mike,
    I cringe when I see the impacts, knowing what I know about concussions. It doesn’t take much to cause serious damage. I have a set of the Navy studies of concussions using chimpanzees. If an impact is at the right (or wrong, if you will) place, it only takes about 3.5 G force to cause brain injury. Obviously that is not true of all head impacts, but is cause for concern. I would never let one of my kids or grandkids play soccer if the coach taught “heading” the ball.

    NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson was on the Dan Patrick show earlier and talked about concussions. For those who are not familiar with NASCAR, Jimmie Johnson is a five time champion, winning the championship five times in a row. He is arguably the best race car driver who has ever lived. He has talked about this issue on a number of times, and concussions have been on his mind a lot. He has said repeatedly he thought NFL football was riskier than driving in NASCAR when it came to concussions. NASCAR has been doing a lot of research and development on equipment, and in that area appears to be way ahead of any other high risk sport. Fast forward the video embedded in the link to 7:15 where Dan Patrick asks him about it point blank.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nascar-from-the-marbles/jimmie-johnson-says-nascar-safer-nfl-172247182.html

  4. The idea that any sports league would drag their feet on safety equipment and keep data concealed is not only immoral, it should be considered criminal.

  5. Nice work Mike.

    I might add this reminds me of why I am not in favor of sports such as boxing. Though I am open to some martial arts courses where it is more self defense minded.

    Dementia Pugilistica

    No amount of fame, glory or money is worth having a progressive neurological disease such as these. And yes it is often realized too late, and especially when it is so preventable such as choices as to engage or not in these sports.

    I have a problem with full contact football for those minors in high school and younger ages. But it is so intertwined with small town culture it is not going away any time soon, especially when a child has parents who want to live this glory through their sons.

  6. Excellent piece, Mike. I believe that we will see significant rule changes within the next few years as the general public becomes more familiar with the neurological risks.

    And the next time anyone feels inclined to trash one of my columns, please remember that I played football AND boxed in high school, which should entitle me to some sort of earned cognition credits.

  7. I quit watching football in 2012 midseason because of reports about concussions. I haven’t watched since and will never watch again.

    Concussions to the pros don’t bother me – they are adults and know or learn the risks, and are well paid. Concussions to college players don’t bother me either. Anyone playing in I-A football (bowl games) could have chosen to play I-AA (playoffs) against smaller sized players and lesser competition, while still receiving a scholarship. The reported number of concussions at lower levels of football (Division II and III, NAIA) may be due to less news reporting about concussions, but it may also be due to players being smaller and slower. Concussions are caused by force, and force equals mass times acceleration.

    What finally put me off football forever is the rise in concussions amongst kids, and I’m not just talking about 14-18 year olds. There is a precipitous rise in the number of concussions amongst pre-teen kids whose brains are not yet fully developed. They are being pushed back into games by the coaches and parents, told to “shake it off”. Those kids are DEFINITELY not old enough to know the risks, and will face long term consequences. It takes LONGER for a child to recover from a concussion (*) than an adult, yet kids are being given LESS time to recover.

    (* “recover from a concussion” is an oxymoron)

    “The Pop Warner FIVE Concussion Game Won’t Be The Last”
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/bobcook/2012/10/23/to-footballs-detriment-the-pop-warner-five-concussion-football-game-wont-be-the-last-of-its-kind/

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=concussions-studies-butt-heads

    I would include more links than those but Turley’s site doesn’t allow more than two or three links in a post. There are literally dozens of science and news articles on the number and effects of concussions, all negative and critical of football.

    A parent who shakes a baby would be put in jail, but a parent who makes an eight year old child play after being concussed is a “good parent”? No, not now, not ever. It’s just as irresponsible and criminal, and we may eventually see prosecution.

    In time, football will have to eliminate or reduce contact. Some leagues are now mandating NO contact during practices to eliminate part of the risk, but I think football will eventually have to adopt a rule from hockey and rugby: only the person with the puck or ball can be hit.

    Only a know-nothing would call hockey and rugby “soft”, and concussions do happen in those sports. (Many hockey concussions are due to fights, not hits.) Concussions are nowhere near as common or frequent in those games as in football. And it’s not limited to contact sports – soccer (world football) has a growing problem with CTE and concussions. As least one soccer player, Jeff Astle, has been known to have suffered and died from CTE. Astle was well known for how he headed the ball during his 18 year career.

  8. I do not care about football. I did like Squeeky Froom’s poem. It was smooth, without pip or squeak from the little girl. Good poem.

  9. ” I believe that we will see significant rule changes within the next few years as the general public becomes more familiar with the neurological risks.”

    I think there are serious questions regarding how much can be accomplished with improvements in helmets and other safety equipment. It may surprise some that acceleration and deceleration can be as damaging as an actual blow to the head.

    I have my doubts that any amount of rule fiddling can change the nature of this contact sport.

    It is a reasonable guess that we may be witnessing the last few years of football as it has been played till now – at all levels from NFL on down.

    BTW, I also played and occasional still watch the NFL and college games.

  10. Excellent post and points….

    One wonders how long it will be before the NCAA is forced to start paying medical expenses for its players injured for life…. They are money makers while playing…. And the NCAA and university’s share the profits….. What about the players?

  11. Glad you wrote this post, MIke. I was outraged by EPSN’s knuckling under on a public health issue as important as this one. I tried to write one but the bile kept getting in the way,

    Kudos, my well-lettered friend.

  12. If the NFL withheld information they should pay, whether that would have changed the outcome or not: There is no way to know for sure the outcome would not be different.

    If the NFL withheld information, I think they did it because they thought it would have negative consequences on their fortunes, and that is the culpability I see: They (the NFL) were purposely withholding it, and thereby exposing players to injury without their (the players) consent in order to make more money.

    I think an informed decision to sacrifice one’s life for fame and fortune is fundamentally different than being tricked into the same decision.

    Personally, I do not intentionally watch football or any sports, except for the Olympics. I just do not identify with teams. I fail to feel that elation of “we won!” if I had literally nothing to do with the team winning (and no, I do not consider “rooting” or buying a ticket a contribution).

    I don’t even root for countries as teams in the Olympics; I just enjoy the world class prowess of individuals. Like highlight reels: I don’t care what team they are on, unbelievable baskets, throws, catches and saves are entertaining. The demonstration of individual performance is what impresses me, and who is paying their salary this week or what city they are living in this year, or what school they attend is about as exciting to me as the profession of accounting.

  13. Malcolm Gladwell is campaigning to have college football banned. It is quixotic, but the facts are there. Although I do have empathy for NFL players, they know the risks now. And, some changes are being made in the NFL. Ironically, much of the opposition comes from players. The problem w/ the NCAA is much worse.

    Head injuries are not limited to games. Live scrimmages are often just as intense as a game. The NFL has very limited live scrimmages during the season. The NCAA has live scrimmages 2, sometimes 3 full practices every week. It is the cumulative head trauma that causes the vast majority of these cases. And, during a football season, NCAA players are subjected to approximately 3-5 times more violent head hits than their professional counterparts. Bryant Gumbel did a good piece on this subject. He interviewed Troy Aikmen, a victim of many concussions. Aikmen believes you should take helmets away. They really do little to lessen the blow and do much to encourage the person administering the hit by protecting their face. Or, at least take away facemasks.

    This all said, I only played high school football. However, I suffered a severe concussion and blow out fracture of my right orbital bone when kicked in the head. I was hospitalized and had to see a couple eye specialists. I saw double for almost a year, wearing an eye patch then Mr. Magoo prisms, like Hillary, after that. This was 1968. The doctors told me and my parents I was much more prone to further concussions. This isn’t new information.

  14. The fact that I’m an avid sports fan does not blind me to the problems inherent in the sports world and the fact that it seems all societies around the world tend to have huge fan bases that generate massive revenue. The term “fan” itself was coined a a shorthand version of fanatic regarding those who watched professional baseball in the late 19th century. We need only see that during Philadelphia Eagles games there is an assigned magistrate to arraign
    “fans” who have gotten out of control. Professional sports has become an arm of Corporatism and a massive generator of profits for those companies associated with it. In our country “so-called” amateur sports make so much money that their only non-professional aspect is that the players aren’t paid as billions are generated for those running them.

    “Love” of ones team for many is indeed fanaticism and is akin to the jingoistic passions that lead countries to war. This sports frenzy does indeed have jingoistic overtones when you observe the ritual of the National Anthem, accompanied many times by a military color guard and an Air Force flyover before the games. What could possibly be the reason for this when all we are seeing is merely a sport/game played for money? That was rhetorical of course since the reason is quite apparent. It is jingoistic propaganda that imparts significance to both the sport and martial fervor to the observers (fanatics).

  15. I also wanted to add that the O’bannon lawsuit, against the NCAA, has a great chance of changing the landscape of college sports. I am surprised that Professor JT hasn’t mention a word about it (or maybe I missed it).

  16. ““Love” of ones team for many is indeed fanaticism and is akin to the jingoistic passions that lead countries to war.”

    Do you think it is any accident that a football team is about the same size a a military squad.

    If we loose football what ever will guys do to satisfy our need for small unit violence

  17. Distracted by bread & circus, the band played on aboard the Great USSA Titanic.

    Yet under the floor boards the (Wallst) rats busily scurried hither & fro.

    Years back I notice a multi million dollar school bond issue on the ballot for a small local school.

    (small local school = Sports Academy Farm Team training camp for ESPN/Big Media?Wallst/NFL/NBA/MLB/Etc…)

    Then as now I wondered why would public schools/govts need constant financing by Wallst, through bond issues, when they already have the ability to tax & pay cash for anything they need?

    The answer remains same, govts/agency in most cases don’t need to borrow a dime for anything.

    On that one bond issue their were 3 items involved.

    33% of the money went to new buses, (IE: to bus this local public funded sports around for the most part.),

    33% went to a new gymnasium, again mostly for locally funded sports activities.

    33% went for new teachers/paper clips/etc..

    My guess was they threw in the last bone in hopes of getting the meat from the 1st 2.

    During the last much smaller great depression then the one of today’s time, I’ve seen some historical accounts that in the 1930’s school sports was sold to the public as way to improve local morale.

    Maybe locals sports started out innocent & pure, but it’s definitely big corporate/wallst biz now with never ending bond issue financing to drag more & more profits out of the local communities.

    Thus leaving the locals damaged & broke. (IE: The Insurance Biz, est. 10 times more going out then ever comes back into the community.)

    Rigged voting machines or ignorant brainwashed voters I’m not sure.

    What I think might be a better solution is that the Jr./high schools/colleges sell off their sports franchises at public auction & retain a 25% stake in the ownership of the brand.

    Those royalty payments could then be used to pay for real education needs.

    I know around here many of the community would likely disagree with me that the taxpayers sole obligation towards public education is basically the 3Rs.

    Public Ed til the 8th Grade used to be all any kid got on the taxpayer’s dime, if the gov took out most of the poisons from the air,food,water, meds maybe 8th grade enough of a start.

    And that anything extra is the obligation of the parents/students & would be on the kids own initiative.

    Most of us decades out of public schools yet we still study every week @ no cost to taxpayers!!!

    IE: Did Willie Nelson, Doors or the Beatles get Tax Payer subsidized concerts? How about 1/8 mile, 1/4 mile oval stockcar racing?

    Another major issue with govt subsidized/sponsored sports is that it teaches/brainwashes into young people to yield to centralized govt control.

    To play, they make the rules, the young persons (YP) do not. If YP wish to play risky violent sports it has to be under the watchful eye of State Sponsored Violence.

    No Individual Leadership qualities are allowed!!!

    That brainwashing comes in helpful to the State in just a few years because many YP are brainwashed that if they wish to comment acts of violence that the govt will allow no freelance only State Sponsored Violence & for that desire YP have to join the Govt’s Army or the now Militarized Police Forces.

    Anyway, there is a choice, Freelance with your group/clan or State Sponsored Bureaucracy groups/clans.

    ** “We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. … It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries. ”

    -David Rockefeller, Baden-Baden, Germany in June 1991 **

  18. RWL, The O’Bannon class action antitrust lawsuit is a possible end to the charade of NCAA sports. Universities make billions off of athletes. I think the plaintiffs have a strong case. And, I’ve not seen the case discussed here. It’s scheduled for trial early next year. I doubt they’ll be a settlement.

  19. Here we have a view of the problem in one handy map:

    The NFL has grown too powerful, and the coming lawsuits are going to be one huge course-correction for them.

  20. James K.,

    That chart is spectacularly informative and amazingly disgusting at the same time.

    Nick,

    I couldn’t agree with you more about NCAA sports and the sadness of its hold is illustrated in James’ chart.

  21. Mike S., yes wickedly informative, that one. Well, at least we know where all the science and engineering money went, skills for which demand is in orbit.

    That map is just the way the NFL wants it, and they have created a culture that any messing with it will not be tolerated. Too much money involved. It’s a cynical gerrymandering resulting in wasted educational opportunity for which the need has grown dire.

    But as the NFL’s stranglehold over media loosens due to many more ways to access it, the opportunity will arise for meaningful change. The head trauma epidemic (I don’t know what else to call it) is really the last straw.

    For those who love football, it’s possible to have it without that map. Just sayin’.

  22. James, It is a disgusting and informative map, thanks.

    Mike, I agree w/ your good post here. However, I think more focus needs to be on the college football head trauma. The NCAA is the minor leagues for the NFL and NBA. Those bloated leagues need to be made to create their own minor leagues like MLB and NHL. There are no recruiting scandals in college hockey and b-ball. Those athletes are playing college sports for the right reasons. Those coaches aren’t looking to be recruited by MLB or NHL. They treat their athletes like the college students they are. The college football and b-ball coaches use their athletes as meat to climb the ladder. And in football, the practice hitting sessions are much more frequent than in the NFL. At least the NFL players have a union. However, it’s a somewhat horseshit union. They needed Marvin Miller not Ed Garvey when free agency was being negotiated. Ed Garvey got very limited free agency and gave up on GUARUNTEED contracts!! If there is any sport that needs guaranteed contracts it’s the NFL.

    I don’t know if you were a Knicks fan but the troubled life of Dean Meminger ended yesterday, found in a dive hotel in NYC. Dean was a slave to the pipe. I was a Celtics fan but always like The Dream. He helped Al McGuire win the NCAA title @ Marquette.

  23. I want to send my grandson to some state university that prides itself in playing out state universities in football. That way he can say that he is a Mizzoura Tiger or a Bama Cornporn. It is good use of my hard earned money. He can then compete with the Chinese in science.

  24. Football should be banned. So should hockey. So should any sport that involves contact. Id tell soccer that if there is too much contact their sport will be banned also.

  25. Mike Spindell 1, August 24, 2013 at 11:00 am

    “Love” of ones team for many is indeed fanaticism and is akin to the jingoistic passions that lead countries to war. This sports frenzy does indeed have jingoistic overtones when you observe the ritual of the National Anthem, accompanied many times by a military color guard and an Air Force flyover before the games. What could possibly be the reason for this when all we are seeing is merely a sport/game played for money? That was rhetorical of course since the reason is quite apparent. It is jingoistic propaganda that imparts significance to both the sport and martial fervor to the observers (fanatics).
    ===============================

    We surely remember the NFL football player who left football to join the military so as to go to war in Afghanistan (see Wikipedia, “Pat Tillman”).

    The story has many aspects, but I remember the Pentagon trying to gin up “follow Pat Tillman to Afghanistan” propaganda, which worked well:

    Krakauer includes passages from Tillman’s diary that show a keen awareness of the propaganda that would follow his death. While on his first mission as an Army Ranger, Tillman was sent to rescue Pvt. Jessica Lynch, a soldier who had been captured by militants in Iraq. Lynch was falsely characterized by the Pentagon as a military hero who had gone down with guns blazing. She later testified that she had not fired a single bullet.

    “This mission will be a P.O.W. rescue, a woman named Jessica Lynch,” Tillman wrote. “As awful as I feel for the fear she must face, and admire the courage I’m sure she’s showing, I do believe this to be a big Public Relations stunt. Do not mistake me, I wish everyone in trouble to be rescued, but sending this many folks for a single low ranking soldier screams of media blitz.”

    (Jon Krakauer: “Pat Tillman Suspected He Would be Used by Pentagon for Propaganda“). They did so to the point that a medal, which one only receives if killed by an enemy, was approved and was being processed — until the military (“for some reason”) reversed course and said friendly fire took him out, and aborted the medal mission.

    This also smacks of feudalism residue still in our national DNA if you will:

    A knight could bring in additional wealth by competing in jousting tournaments. These tournaments offered a substantial purse to the winner. Winners of such jousting tournaments became the Medieval ‘superstars’ of the Middle Ages. Knights became rich and famous. The tournaments were a necessary part of feudalism as they acted as a necessary training ground for the knights. The most successful and therefore wealthy knights were able to increase their land holdings and acquire their own soldiers to whom he might grant lands and who in turn swore an Oath of Fealty to the knight. Powerful knights under feudalism were therefore able to acquire their own substantial fighting forces. This in turn led to the construction of castles by knights – the great power bases of the Middle Ages.

    These were great celebrations with military show and tell, colors, knights parading, and extolling the party line.

    Are you ready for some jousting football?

  26. lets just get rid of risk altogether. Make life safe and secure.

    Smokers know/knew the risks and so does anyone who plays a physical sport. Kids die playing baseball.

    While I never played football and could take it or leave it, I think getting rid of it is a bad idea.

    Make better helmets but those dont protect the brain since a concussion is a result of acceleration of the brain inside the skull.

  27. Bron,
    I think the point is, pro football has made brain injury their dirty little secret. NASCAR has set the model for the way to handle it. There are sports which are inherently dangerous, but there is no excuse for resisting collecting data and doing research and development.

  28. Bron, Our nanny state hates competition, and if it involves any sort of physical contact, then it needs to be banned. I would check the water supply for salt peter.

  29. OS:

    you dont think players know of the damage concussions cause? They never heard of a punch “drunk” boxer?

    It is like joining the military and then one day waking up and realizing I might die or be terribly injured for life. The recruiter didnt mention that, he just said I could get a college education.

    Football contact, I have read, is like falling out of a 2 story window which is just below the threshold for serious injury or death. I have known this for at least 30 years.

    Football is good for children to play as are most sports [except soccer, those parents are crazy] in that they teach competition, excellence, hard work, teamwork and fair play [or at least they used to when I was a kid].

  30. nick spin 1, August 25, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Bron, Our nanny state hates competition, and if it involves any sort of physical contact, then it needs to be banned. I would check the water supply for salt peter.
    ===========================
    Nick, if you really want to be an investigator, no longer paid by the nanny state, check the water for microscopic body parts of whistleblowers.

  31. Bron,
    It is not about being a contact sport or not taking risks. It is about research and development of better equipment. It is good to learn from mistakes, and part of that is studying injuries and how they happened. Same as accident reconstructonists have made cars and highways safer. However, pro football seems to want to keep those details away from scrutiny. I have no idea why. If you pay somebody several million dollars a year, you might think they would want him healthy instead of sitting in a wheelchair drooling on himself.

  32. OS:

    I am not sure there is any way to prevent a concussion since the brain moves inside the skull and no amount of padding is going to prevent that deceleration; although it will help to prevent external injuries.

    You would think the league would do all it could to prevent serious injury but I think that is the nature of football.

    I knew a couple of guys in college who played football and they used to tell me it was brutal. They typically spent the 48 hours post game in a whirlpool popping advil to temper the pain and help with the inflammation. These guys were about my size so they were on the low end of weight, around 215-225.

    I played tennis one summer with a guy, a lineman, who was 6′-7″ and was at least 275, probably 300 and I think he didnt get bruises so much as give them. A tennis racquet in his hand looked like a serving spoon.

  33. Bron,
    Did you watch that NASCAR compilation I posted? It is about energy management and ways to bleed off energy, on a gradual curve which reduces G forces. I know a lot about concussions and have had a few myself. Equipment has been made far safer than when I played football but IMHO, there is still room for improvement.

    I went to school with one of the best known NFL quarterbacks (no names respecting his privacy) who has now been retired many years. After he had played a couple of seasons, he stopped by and I had a chance to tease him about not scrambling and staying in the pocket. In college, he could scramble and throw on the run like few have ever done. He replied to my question about not scrambling any more: “Hey, those big old people will HURT you.”

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