Monday, October 12, 2009

Head injuries, football and dogfighting

This is probably the only football-related story I've read all year, and it's a good one. It compares football and dogfighting, for their destructiveness to the participant. It's by Malcolm Gladwell, one of today's best thinkers and writers.

From The New Yorker:

Much of the attention in the football world, in the past few years, has been on concussions—on diagnosing, managing, and preventing them—and on figuring out how many concussions a player can have before he should call it quits. But a football player’s real issue isn’t simply with repetitive concussive trauma. It is, as the concussion specialist Robert Cantu argues, with repetitive subconcussive trauma. It’s not just the handful of big hits that matter. It’s lots of little hits, too.

There is nothing else to be done, not so long as fans stand and cheer. We are in love with football players, with their courage and grit, and nothing else—neither considerations of science nor those of morality—can compete with the destructive power of that love.

Hockey is of course much more of a skill game than football. But it does raise the specter of head injuries and the responsibility of the league and the fans to spare the players.

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