I continue to fall behind on commenting on various articles, in the usual range from dumb to thoughtful, discussing the future of youth football in particular. The primary reason is that I am focused on additional investigation of the USA Swimming sex abuse scandal prior to the upcoming Olympic summer.
The secondary reason is that there is so much concussion content in the water supply that my own meager attempts at fluoridation become unnecessary and unproductive. It’s better to let the parents of America, most of whom haven’t thought this stuff through before, process the wise words of Kurt Warner and of Tom Brady’s father without the filter of my hectoring.
There’s a corollary to all this, which is that some readers have been bombarding me with an anecdote about a freakish death in flag football. For a number of them, this is neutral data duly forwardable to the Concussion Police, which I am not. For others, the proof that bad things indeed also happen in flag football … or in cheerleading … or in automobile travel … or in the act of tying one’s shoelaces under a mantle where a piece of heavy earthenware precariously rests … provides exculpatory wisdom on amateur tackle football for non-adults. By the same logic, we’d let kids smoke cigarettes on the grounds that you could choke to death if an olive pit got lodged in your throat, too. This is what “concussion awareness” has wrought, in addition to an overdue debate on our out-of-control football industry: social criticism as a combination of nannyism and reductios ad absurdum.
For me, the real question is: Does a unique and unacceptable threshold of bad things happen in youth tackle football due to precisely how the game is played, and the only realistic way it will ever be played? And: Does that threshold additionally manifest itself years or decades down the road, due to a phenomenon we can’t even document with discrete injury events?
So, more in due course and at my own painful pace.
I do want to pause here to note the story of the campaign by Diana Brett of Davie, Florida, following the suicide last year of her 16-year-old football-playing son Daniel. It is an important step in the inexorable development of a Mothers Against Drunk Football movement:
“Mom’s mission personalizes danger of concussions to young athletes”
South Florida Sun-Sentinel