Friday, April 08, 2016

Weaning the public off football

Basketball: Better athletes, plenty of excitement, little danger

Another NFL player quits---he's only 23!---a lucrative profession because of the concussions he's suffered in the past and those he'll surely suffer in the future if he keeps playing football:

...[A.J.]Tarpley’s announcement comes just days after former San Francisco 49er Chris Borland, the 25-year-old who quit after one season for similar concerns, said early retirement would become the new normal in the NFL, as CBS Sports notes.

“Well, I think an old adage is that you play till the wheels fall off,” Borland told the Detroit Free Press. “You play till you can’t anymore. You have to be carried off the field. I think that’ll change.”

Indeed, increasing numbers of players have been quitting the league with health fears. Last month, Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah said he would be leaving the NFL after seven seasons, citing concussions.

Also in March, an NFL official became the league’s first high-ranking officer to acknowledge a link between football-related head trauma and degenerative brain diseases like chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Other NFL leaders have been hesitant to endorse that view. The NFL fought back fiercely when The New York Times published an article in March that claimed the league’s concussion research was flawed and resembled the tobacco industry’s denial of the dangers of cigarettes. The league demanded a retraction, which the Times refused.

Rob's comment:
The concussion issue is not just about professional football; it's also about college, high school, and Pop Warner football. As this reality slowly sinks into the popular consciousness, increasingly parents will refuse to let their children play this game. 

It may take a few generations to turn football into a fringe sport---like the transformation of boxing from its popularity in the 20th century to its relatively insignificant niche now. In 50 years football will be like arena football is now in popularity.

Parents used to encourage their kids to play soccer as an alternative to American football, but that sport also has a serious concussion problem.

Let's turn to two wonderful sports that have few injury issues: baseball and basketball. Basketball players mostly suffer leg injuries to their hamstrings, ankles, and knees. Those injuries can be painful but are usually short-lived, nothing like the long-term brain damage from playing football that often doesn't show up until late in life.

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