President Obama was inaugurated for the second time this past weekend and gave a challenging, competitive inaugural speech aimed at the opposition party. Everyone heard his words and had an opinion about what he said on “both sides of the aisle”, as they say. He also made a comment that did not garner nearly as much attention; however, as a sports and football fan, it warranted some investigation and thoughts.
“I’m a big football fan,” Obama told the New Republic, “but I have to tell you, if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football.” I still remember my own mother refusing to sign the permission form to let me play football. She finally relented when I went to high school and I played for four years.
This week, Rolling Stone magazine did a study: “This is Your Brain on Football” (Jan., 2013) which concluded that high school football is America’s most dangerous game.
The latest statistics indicate that 3.8 million Americans suffer a concussion on the playground or playing contact sports. The number is probably above 4 million because it is assumed that many concussions go unreported when they do not cause unconsciousness. As a result, the number could realistically be much, much higher. Many neurosurgeons are of the belief that no child should play tackle football until they turn 14. They report that concussive symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, fatigue, inability to focus, memory failure and lightheadedness can linger indefinitely. These symptoms can affect school, activities, and future mental development.
Those of us who played sports wonder why this problem is much more serious than it used to be. Kids have, without a doubt, gotten bigger, faster, and stronger. Doctors say, however, that the development of neck muscles have not. Combining the two has created some devastating consequences.
If the past is a precursor to the future, parents need look no further than the current state of the NFL in the court system. 4,000 former players are currently pressing claims for permanent brain damage. Every week, we watch games where some hits are so vicious that we feel somewhat guilty about enjoying the game so much. We know that these men are being paid quite well to take those hits, so I suppose this helps us assuage our reservations about the game.
P.S.: Girls are twice as likely as boys to suffer concussions when you consider all of the sports played by both genders which may subject them concussions. These include: soccer, lacrosse, hockey, or the leader in head trauma – competitive cheerleading! Did you know 37,000 cheerleaders in the US were taken to ER’s in 2011 alone?
Only football results in more traumatic injuries.
The good news (if there is any) is that prevention of these injuries is being studied by the medical and athletic communities. However, the quandary for parents remains: Would you let your son play football?
ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
- This past weekend, the Lafayette women’s and the Lafayette men’s basketball teams both beat their archrival, Lehigh. This feat had not been accomplished since February 23, 2008. They did not just win – the women won by 16 at home and the men won by 21 at Lehigh. It all happens again on February 23 and 24.
- “I went to the Pro Bowl and a basketball game broke out”. NFC-62 AFC-35. I would like to comment on the game, but I did not watch it (again)!
- San Francisco vs Baltimore on Sunday. Can anybody prove they had these two teams in the Super Bowl this year before the season began? QB’s Colin Kaepernick vs Joe Flacco – no Brady, no Brees, no Manning or Manning – go figure. By the way, the over/under in Vegas is 47.5. I would lean towards the under. The 49’ers are favored in Vegas by 3 ½. Although I am picking the 49’ers, I would lean towards Baltimore with the points.
- Speaking of predictions, Vegas picked Alabama to win the BCS championship next year. Notre Dame came in 11th as a 25-1 long-shot.
- “60 Minutes” interviewed USADA on Sunday and the head said Lance Armstrong lied throughout the Oprah interview and if he does not testify truthfully in front of that group, he will never compete again in cycling. I wonder what Dr. Phil will learn from the man who pulled the hoax on Manti Te’o?
NFL PICKS FOR THIS WEEK
(Last week – 1-1) (88-54 for the season – 62%)
SAN FRANCISCO – 24-21