George Will is saying it. ESPN, one of the National Football League’s broadcast partners, is sort of saying it. And even the NFL, by staging a dog-and-pony show last week to co-opt the moms of America, is admitting it. Cripes, football 2012-13 is a mess.
I don’t even refer to the ever-growing ranks of ex-pro player litigants, or the attempts by some NFL insurers to bail. The country’s most popular bloodsport can survive the upcoming multibillion-dollar hit at that level.
But just look around at the alternating chords of denial and panic inside Pop Warner and public high school programs. My favorite story involves the pee-wee coach in Massachusetts who doesn’t confine himself to limiting contact time in practice, per the nearly useless recommendations of the Boston go-to guys in “concussion awareness.” No, sir. This coach has a stopwatch and a spreadsheet, with which he attempts to record and accumulate contact times for each individual squirt. Good luck with that one, o molders of young men. (See “Pop Warner football programs adjust to new contact rules in practice,” Phil Perry, Boston Globe, http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2012/08/22/pop-warner-football-programs-adjusting-new-contact-rules-practice-cutting-back-the-hits-softening-blows-during-practice/RPnwVQqSkltWRRv5h7TBPN/story.html.)
Regarding ESPN, I’ve already touted Peter Keating’s excellent emperor’s-clothes strip of the vaunted ImPACT concussion management system. Another piece in ESPN’s just-concluded multi-platform package on traumatic brain injuries that I highly recommend checking out is Tom Farrey’s “NFL Youth Football Fund faces crisis,” http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/8294350/nfl-youth-football-fund-once-flush-millions-faces-safety-crisis-depleted-funds-options.
Farrey and other worthies are all over the football story right now. I’ll chime in when I have something urgent or unique to add to the conversation. In the meantime, I’ll keep the focus here on the criminals in youth swimming — both the perps and the higher-ups who cover up their actions, and thereby continue to endanger our children in that sport.
But holy moly, is football ever a mess!