This is it. Today is the day. Football season starts. Everybody’s excited and full of joy. Between you and me (and when I say that I really you and me since I’m down to one regular reader now), I’m not as excited about football season’s return as I have been in the past. I used to bubble with excitement for days prior to the season kickoff. This season, however, is different. Learning about the long term damage playing football causes has caused me to reassess things. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to cheer for people to do that kind of damage to themselves and others.
I haven’t always understood the legacy of physical damage football causes. Really the first time it occurred to me was during the OJ Simpson trial when they documented the physical difficulties he was having as part of his defense. Even then it didn’t sink in. I figured, “hey, this guy is getting charged with a double murder so he’ll make any argument, reasonable or unreasonable, to get off.” Still the fact that he could barely bend his fingers at age 47 was eye opening.
In the last couple years the parade of retired football players displaying erratic behavior and committing suicide has really awoken my mind to how brutal a sport football can be. Think about it: Junior Seau, Andre Waters, and Dave Duerson are just a few of the players who committed suicide and whose brains showed significant trauma. The stories of players like Mike Webster and Ted Johnson are horror stories. If I had a son (thank god I don’t. Go Team Estrogen!) I would not allow him to play football. I’m not alone in that decision even some football players don’t want their kids following in their football footsteps.
What really called me to question my enthusiasm was watching the Hall of Fame Game. Every year the NFL trots out two teams to kick off the farce known as preseason to coincide with the induction of the new class of Hall of Famers. Since the World’s Greatest Football Team, The Dallas Cowboys was playing and a former Cowboy was inducted into the Hall I decided to watch for a bit. It was stunning watching the new Hall of Famers shuffle out to the center of the field to soak up accolades from the crowd. Some of them were hardly older than me and they could barely move.
Sure these guys sign up to play football and have some understanding of the types of injuries they could suffer. Sure they get paid ungodly sums. However, football careers don’t last long. So many players, even the superstars, can’t afford type of long term medical care there’ll need. The culture of sports in general and football in particular encourages players to play through injuries that have long term implications. In the short run there’s little that can be done about that. In long run? Who knows? I’ve come to the conclusion that little can be done to make football safer. On every play there’s a fairly decent chance some player will pick up a serious injury. Even as the league has tried to improve its response to injuries they’ve still increased.
The NFL being the great hype machine that it is has done a great job of minimizing the injury factor while highlighting the big brain shaking hits that fans love. I watched a report on ESPN’s Outside the Lines detailing the NFL’s efforts to downplay the effect of concussions on players. It led me to believe the NFL views players as disposable entities. As long as the machine keeps rolling everything is okay. I even find the league’s recent settlement with retired players bothersome. Sure they get what appears to be a healthy sum of money. Some money is better than no money. The fact that NFL admits no liability is troublesome. In my opinion, the settlement amounts to sweeping a massive problem under the rug.
Will I still watch? Probably. I won’t watch as intently as I have in the past. I can’t hang on all things football. It’s too hard to enjoy.
Annual Super Bowl Pick
This section is for the hardcore betting fan that’s not sure who to put his money on this season. Please note this pick is completely unbiased. I made it based on all the football evidence from this offseason.
There’s a lot of teams that might take the whole thing. But there’s one team with the players and coaching to actually do it. If you’re betting put your money on a team from Texas. Dallas, Texas that is. The Cowboys will take the whole thing.
I have a pair of two year old nephews and I had the opportunity to see one of them this past weekend. Whenever I see them I can see the joy and wonder of life in their eyes. And since I’m on Team Estrogen it’s always nice to be around rambunctious boys once in a while. This weekend, however, was different. My nephew was his usual energetic self but in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial I was more worried about my nephews than ever. I don’t know what path my nephews will take in life but it frightens me to think they could be simply walking down the street and murdered because somebody felt “threatened.”
As a teen I was stopped several times for simply being a black teen driving in some of the DC area’s more tony neighborhoods. As cynical as I can be about society, I also held out the hope that twenty something years later authority figures (whether real or self-proclaimed) would not still treat young black men as the enemy. The frustrating fact of the Zimmerman trial is black youth are still targets.
Treating a young black male as the enemy is precisely what George Zimmerman was able to do. George claims he felt threatened and we now know Travyon Martin was armed and dangerous due to his proximity to the sidewalk. (Zimmerman’s lawyers suggested the sidewalk, in Trayvon’s hands, was a deadly weapon then Zimmerman’s brother repeated this asinine claim in a post-trial interview. Only in America is a sidewalk in the proximity of a young black male considered a more deadly weapon than a gun.)
Based on his non-emergency call, Zimmerman immediately projected Trayvon as a neighborhood menace. Zimmerman’s history of calls to the police to report young black man in his neighborhood and his statement, “these assholes always, they get away…” pretty much tells you his mind state that night. The question that reverberated in my head as my nephew bounced through my brother’s house was; how do we change that mind state? Is it even possible?
Some folks will argue, as Zimmerman’s brother and his attorneys (What was with those guys anyway? Their post-trial victory celebration interview was disturbing. They kept referring to the tragedy of Zimmerman being charged with a crime in this situation. They only begrudgingly mentioned Trayvon and attempted to subtly destroy his character. Would it have killed them to extend sympathy to Martin’s family?) alluded to in their post-trial interviews, that crime is a major problem in the black community especially among young black men. Yes, crime in black communities is a horrible problem but that in no way justifies treating each and every young black male as suspect. Black men should not be considered criminals for the offense of simply existing.
The sad fact is a 17 year old boy lost his life. A mother and father had to bury their son. George Zimmerman is free to lead his life. I’m not sure of the path and I wish had the answers for what actions to take. However, if we don’t do something now this set of facts will replay themselves. If we don’t confront the mind state behind racial profiling we all lose. Little black boys are confined to a permanent legal underclass and society surrenders to its most irrational fears.
As you may remember before my blogcation I occasionally talked about my two daughters. No they haven’t grown up. I wasn’t away that long. They are, however, at an ever maddening age that requires me to develop a new parenting skill. I now play to role of the referee for their escalating and ongoing battles.
Continue reading “The Referee” »
My intention to take a short break after the election turned into another in a long line of blog abandonments. What is this the third or fourth one? With so much going on in the world it’s hard to imagine I had nothing to say. That wasn’t the case. I just couldn’t say it in writing.
Writer’s block may not be the best description of my situation. Early in my absence I wrote. I wrote a lot actually. I just didn’t like anything I wrote. My Google Drive account is littered with ill-conceived pieces and half written junk. I wrote what I thought was a thoughtful piece on gun control and then when I read it I realized I couldn’t post it due to its general awfulness. Editing couldn’t save that thing from itself.
That piece, along with all the other junk I produced during my blue period, will stay in the archives. Unless when I die my kids decided to milk my writing for all it’s worth to keep this highly unprofitable blog going.
Writers I respect and enjoy encourage hacks in my situation to write out of a slump. Ha! Every day they’d tweet about accountability and getting your pages in. If they saw the garbage I was producing they’d encourage me never to write again and stop tagging onto their hallowed profession.
Seriously, it was that bad. It was bad enough that I stopped writing months ago and had an extended debate about shutting the site down altogether.
What changed? I dunno. I realized I didn’t want to give up. I missed writing. I missed the stimulating back and forth with my reader. So I’m back and hopefully for a long time.
We’re all in place to watch the final presidential debate. This one was centered around foreign policy. The one area the president has direct control over is foreign policy. The one area that the American public could generally care less about is foreign policy. On the CNN pre game show they asked some florida voters what they’re looking for and most of them mentioned economic issues. They were shocked to learn the wouldn’t be any discussion of domestic issues. To be fair both candidates were also shocked that they wouldn’t being discussing domestic issues because they repeatedly brought them up.
Continue reading “Presidential Debate, Round 3” »