|Leather football helmet with built-in glasses, 1930|
It's time for my every other year football rant. Today's rant is courtesy of this fine article by Mark Whicker for the LA Daily News. It's the story of a young man brought down by years of brain trauma, and we all know it's been going on and continues going on and will continue to go on. The article was posted on Facebook by a friend of mine from college who happens to be Whicker's wife and also a fine sports journalist. A lot of my other friends on Facebook are posting pictures of their sons' newly buzz-cut heads as they prepare for another season of football at their respective high schools, heads that will be at a ridiculous high risk for concussion, if they haven't already had one.
I just don't understand -- on any level -- why football continues to draw tens of thousands of kids at ever younger ages when we know the chance of serious head injury is quite substantial. The amount of glory football players even in high schools continue to get boggles the mind. I imagine the same kids who play at these high schools would be thrown out of high school if they smoked one joint and were caught. Then again, smoking a joint is illegal, and playing football is evidently exhilarating, fun and wholesome, part of what it means to be an American. That's interesting to me and actually quite ironic, given marijuana's efficacy in helping football players with head injuries. Evidently, the NFL has a plan for victims with dementia, of which there are legion: $88,000 a year if you're hospitalized. Like so much else in American culture, prevention is not the key. We like to damage things first and pay up later. Bomb the hell out of a country and then award millions of dollars to contractors and corporations to build it back up. Call it hearts and minds. Pay tens of millions of dollars to fuel an industry that begins at age four or five years old, kneel in prayer before a game and then beat the shit out of the opposing team, later stand by as legions of middle-aged men become collateral, descend into madness, depression, alcoholism and dementia, pay them tens of thousands of dollars and then invest millions in businesses to make safer helmets.
Oh, and start investigating the efficacy of marijuana in healing brain injury, which I suppose has its upside. The NFL is probably a hell of a lot more influential in getting marijuana okayed by the Powers That Be than a bunch of parents with dying or epileptic kids.