What if we just said: no thanks, no more willful glorification of a sport seductive enough for our nation’s young males to risk damaging their brains on the field, under the Friday night lights? This is the question posed by a piece today on NPR.org, which continues:
“The grim headlines just keep coming. This week it’s former NFL kicker Tom Dempsey. Age 66, Dempsey suffers from dementia. During his football career he endured three diagnosed concussions and, almost certainly, several undiagnosed ones. As The New York Timesnotes, his neurologist was ‘astonished by the amount of damage’ visible on Dempsey’s brain scans.
“Earlier this month researchers announced that the brain of Junior Seau, the former NFL linebacker who committed suicide last spring, showed signs of the kind of neurodegenerative disease associated with repetitive head trauma. A causal link between the type of skull-jarring hits that professional football players experience and long-term degenerative brain disease, including dementia, is no longer in serious question (see this technical report from the scientific journal Brain and this blog post about traumatic brain injury in women).
“As NPR reports, more than 3,800 football players have by now sued the NFL over their head injuries. That’s a staggering number. And here it is again, time for the biggest, splashiest football event of the year. On Sunday, this year’s Super Bowl contest is to be played in New Orleans between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. As anthropologists are fond of reminding us, Super Bowl watching is a cultural ritual. Even the glitzy new commercials can be fun to scrutinize, making it easy enough to kick back with some good food and drink and forget the brain-trauma news.”