In a recent article, the author lamented the fact that parents are keeping their kids out of football (“Parents are overreacting to football risks,” Aug. 25). True, parents and kids are voting with their feet — but also with their knees, shoulders, necks and brains, hoping to preserve these body parts for future use. In fact, Blake School announced that it is starting a cooperative program with Minnehaha Academy and St. Paul Academy, since it would have only 15 to 20 players on its own — not enough to field a team.
It looks as if football is replicating what happened to boxing in the last century. I hope this spreads to all segments of society, not just the white upper-middle class.
The essence of football is collision. Whether blocking, tackling or carrying the ball, you strive to hit the other player as he hits you. If you do it well, you knock the opponent down, and he — with his helmet-covered head — hits the ground. A helmet offers some protection, but this diminishes with repeated trauma.
A neurologist will tell you that the brain is a big ball of gelatin floating in cerebrospinal fluid inside the hard case of the skull. When there’s an impact, the skull might stop but the brain keeps moving, and you can get a traumatic brain injury.
It’s argued that there are lessons to be learned from the teamwork, discipline and camaraderie of football. True, but these are available from other sports and activities that involve much less risk of permanent injury. I don’t find these qualities lacking in adults who never played football — and they limp a lot less.
There will be some economic impact from fewer people playing football. Chiropractors, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons and neurologists will have less to do. Drug companies that make painkillers will lose revenue. But the reduction in time missed from work, fewer suicides, and so on, will more than compensate.
Finally, there’s the argument that youth football alone does not cause ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and certain cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy — the diagnoses covered by the players’ settlement with the NFL.
Well, just because your kid smokes e-cigs in the fourth grade doesn’t mean he’ll smoke as an adult and get lung cancer, but you still don’t want him to get started.
James M. Dunn, of Edina, is a retired attorney and former football player who represented clients with head injuries while practicing law.