Thursday, August 31, 2017
Football is now underway. Hooray! A new season should numb the pain from talking politics.
My Seat of Wisdom is located in one of the recliner chairs in our living room. It is equipped with two handy containers on coasters ready to receive cold brew. The first is always a work in progress; the second a back-up reservoir against more advertising commercials.
Television programming, as I am sure you have noticed, has not lived up to its potential for enriching people's lives by educating, informing and enlightening our society. (And this was before the last presidential election.) But away from politics we have televised sporting events promising manna in our desert. Manna or no, there is no free lunch. The price our athletes have to pay for playing is escalating at an alarming rate. A list of prominent tennis players who had to opt out of Opens due to injury is all we need to show that the human body can only take so much wear and tear. And tennis is not even a contact sport. Let's go back and look at football for the moment.
In watching a pre-season football game I brought fresh eyes and another perspective to the slamming and banging that goes on in an ordinary game. We all know football is brutal, combat under another name. It always has been. The difference now is general awareness of the medical damage that goes along with the thrill of athletic prowess. The days of “aw, shucks, it's just an old football injury” are over. It's not so funny today when former jocks are having trouble remembering the names of family and friends and yes, even their own. Repeated blows to the head can absolutely scramble your brain. No helmet can provide real protection.
My own interest in football goes way back to the days when I was an assistant manager of our high school team. I carried a galvanized bucket full of spigot water to the field during timeouts. Gunga Din in suburbia. Thirsty players all drank from one long-handled ladle. Compared to today's frenzied football world on and off the field, those were days of blissful innocence.
The reality is that there is so much money and prominence involved with football success, it would be unheard of for players, coaches, management and owners to turn their collective backs on this enormous potential for riches. After all, these athletes willingly choose to go into the arena, they would argue. It's risk versus reward, etc., etc.
The only real chance for sparing the health of our athletes can come from sports-lovers, including me, rising en masse saying “enough is enough.” You can imagine the odds against that happening.