In a January New Yorker article on the concussion crisis in pro football, writer Ben McGrath quoted Pittsburgh neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon speaking admiringly of Alan Schwarz, the New York Times reporter who created this beat and more recently was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Schwarz, said Dr. Maroon, is “the Socratic gadfly in this whole mix.”
Unlike Socrates, however, Schwarz asks questions that are carefully and corporately adumbrated. The resultant national spirit of cautious inquiry into a stunningly broad public health story is being driven by our Newspaper of Record. This process has the effect of protecting powerful and moneyed interests.
As the game is currently being played, the final score will be some combination of Ivy League-style reforms of football safety and rules, in a sequel to President Teddy Roosevelt’s campaign in the early 20th century, along with federal investigations scapegoating helmet manufacturers – all while letting the $9-billion-a-year National Football League off the hook for a scandal of near-tobacco industry proportions.
CONTINUED TODAY AT BEYOND CHRON, THE SAN FRANCISCO ONLINE NEWSPAPER: