Hats off to Ralph Nader’s League of Fans, which is showing real leadership in the debate over football’s future. See “Goodell’s New Safety Campaign Flawed,” http://leagueoffans.org/2012/11/13/goodells-new-safety-campaign-flawed/.
Unlike the chorus of female bloggers who have fallen for National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell’s “heads-up tackling” line and the promise of space-age helmet technologies, this self-styled consumer-based sports reform lobby takes stock of reality. The concept of safe football “is more of a PR campaign than a safety campaign,” League of Fans’ Ken Reed says. He adds: “The cold hard fact, the elephant in the NFL’s living room, is you can’t take brain trauma out of football, no matter what you do with your head upon contact…. Football’s in trouble. Deep trouble. It can’t be fixed — at least in any meaningful way that will protect participants from the short-and-long-term consequences of brain trauma.”
This stance by League of Fans is a breath of fresh air four days after the Aspen Institute’s broadly publicized but slanted symposium “Playing Safety: The Future of Football?” Inexplicably, the Aspen panel excluded hard-core critics of the football system, such as author-journalist (and my friend) Matt Chaney. But League of Fans quoted Chaney on the heart of the matter:
“Tackle football has real dangers, especially for kids. In endorsing heads-up football, Goodell is trying to define down the sport’s problems. He wants us to believe that the game is not in existential crisis — that everything will be OK so long as the players follow simple rules. Those kinds of statements from Goodell and others, as well as programs that push a supposedly safe version of football, dupe naïve parents, pose undue risk for trusting juveniles, and raise the legal stakes for vulnerable coaches and hosting entities.”