There’s No Offseason in Football – Or In Educating the Public on Child Brain Injuries

Published February 6th, 2012, Uncategorized

Congratulations to the New York Giants.

I’m going to give the Super Bowl news a day to breathe. Tomorrow we’ll have the first of a two-part series on what’s right and what’s inadequate about the youth football hit-count standards proposed last Friday by two National Football League-subsidized advocates: researcher Dr. Robert Cantu of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy and public face Chris Nowinski of the Sports Legacy Institute.

In the first part I’ll endeavor, with a minimum of expert-talk, to inject an appropriate and respectful skepticism into the discussion of this “bold initiative” from Cantu and Nowinski.

But the guts of my perspective will be in Part 2 on Wednesday: a rumination on how Cantu and Nowinski exemplify the professionalization of amateur sports in America; why that is an understandable approach by those two worthies but a wrong one for us and our kids.

In my view, very, very few media types grasp this. (I don’t count among them Alan Schwarz, the New York Times reporter who admirably put the very subject on the map, or Joe Nocera, the Times op-ed columnist who has become one of the leading hand-wringers on concussions and on college sports corruption.) They’re willing to describe the carnage. They’re willing to quote other people on it. They’re willing to analyze rows of statistics. And they’re willing to probe to a point. But they are not ready, and may never be ready, to make the elemental call of citizenry and statecraft: to state clearly that if an activity, no matter how popular or intoxicating, damages national mental health, it needs intervention at more than the margins. Above all, it doesn’t need new cottage industries promoting those marginal interventions while reinforcing our addictions to the activity.

One commentator who I think does get it is Chicago sports radio host Dan Bernstein. This piece by Bernstein, published over the weekend, is a good prelude to Concussion Inc.’s upcoming posts:

“Bernstein: Concussion Talk Obscures Dark Truth,”  http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/02/04/bernstein-concussion-talk-obscures-dark-truth/

 

Irv Muchnick

For complete info on our ebooks – DUERSON (November 2011), UPMC: Concussion Scandal Ground Zero (January 2012), and George Visger’s OUT OF MY HEAD: My Life In and Out of Football (February 2012) – see http://concussioninc.net/?page_id=4925.