Comment Of The Day: The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part One

Yeoman commenter Chris issued a detailed response to the first of two posts about the anthem protest fiasco. It’s not all rebuttal, and raises other related issues; Chris is clear and articulate, and I wanted to get this up now so commenters could respond here.

I’ll just argue immediately with one of Chris’s points, because I have always found it bizarre when I have encountered it elsewhere.  The Left’s aversion to rituals like standing for the National Anthem or saluting the flag seems to me to be a wonderful example of missing the crucially important forest for a scrawny tree. Rituals, traditions and ceremonies bind people, cultures and societies together. They also bind other cultures together, including small ones, like families. Singing and listening to that Anthem at public events is at worst harmless, and at best a binding and powerful group experience. I feel sorry for people who don’t or can’t experience it, just as I feel pity for those who cut themselves off from the culture’s celebration of Christmas to show their aversion to Christianity or religion. I have seen what havoc is raised in a family when a long and beloved tradition is suddenly rejected by a child. The family is wounded, and all its members are affected. This is just a microcosm of what happens in a nation when there is the kind of widespread rejection of values and symbols that Chris and those like him advocate.

The National Anthem at sporting events is theater, spectacle, and symbolic. Anyone on the field is part of the spectacle, and has the power to diminish the experience for people who care deeply about it. They also harm the tradition itself. For an organization like a sports team, it is important to make any on-field display professional, uniform, and pleasing to the audience. A player intentionally refusing to conform with the ritual and thus disrupting it is, at the minimum, rude and selfish. A team has every justification to take measures to prevent some players from standing respectfully, others kneeling, others turning their back, some waving competing flags and others making farting sounds. It looks bad. It will turn the tradition into a farce. Most important of all, it weakens the country and the culture. National pride and respect is part of the connective tissue that ensures the strength and health of any society. I cannot fathom why so many on the Left cannot grasp this concept, and I have dark suspicions that they do grasp it, and this is why they try to tear our traditions down.

Commenter John Glass also passed this along:

The specific rule pertaining to the national anthem is found on pages A62-63 of the NFL League Rulebook. It states: ‘The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. ‘During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition… …It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.’

Any employer has a right to set such rules and conditions for on the job conduct, and any employee has a right to ply his trade, or another, elsewhere.

Here is Chris’s Comment of the Day on the post, The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part One:

sports should not be made a party to the current progressive indoctrination strategy of making everything in American life a political lecture

I agree, which is why the National Anthem should not be played at sporting events.

Nobody pays to go to sporting events to see continuations of the political disputes and debates they watch sports to avoid. Sports is entertainment, and entertainment is escapism.

I agree, which is why the National Anthem should not be played at sporting events.

It’s a useful distinction, and there is no question that the President, as misguided and inappropriate as his remarks were, wins the argument with the many, many millions who just want to watch their favorite teams without being bombarded by political bombast and grandstanding.

I agree, which is why the National Anthem should not be played at sporting events. (And was Trump’s statement not political bombast and grandstanding?

Players are welcome to have political views and to take part in demonstrations and other activism, but not while wearing their uniforms, and not on the field.

I agree, which is why players should not be forced to take part in a political demonstration during sporting events.

Yesterday, over a hundred NFL players “took a knee” during the National Anthem to protest…something…as the news media cheered them on.

It was very clear to me what they were protesting; you describe it here:

The US doesn’t need any more division now, and Trump’s crude outburst was indefensible. Presidents should not comment negatively on the conduct of citizens when they are acting within their Constitutional rights. Nor should they interfere with the policies and disciplinary decisions of private businesses

That’s what they’re protesting. It’s what I would be doing too. I’ve said before that I think flag burning is idiotic, but if Trump followed through on his threats to make flag burning illegal, I would become a flag burner. There may not have been a specific threat here, but the principle is the same. If Trump calls people who take a knee during the national anthem “sons of bitches,” then let me be a son of a bitch. Continue reading

The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part Two

The overview of our latest Ethics Train Wreck continues from Part One

  • Slate published an essay by African-American musician John Legend that itself makes an excellent case against the protests while supposedly glorifying them. Never mind the standard anti-Trump spin at the beginning about “Islamophobia” and the rest, though it is nice for any author to state up front that he’s completely biased and his opinion should be discarded as such. Legend and Slate have the audacity to evoke actual protests that were clear and targeted in comparison the all-purpose “knee”:

“Protest is patriotic. Protest has played a critically important role in elevating the voices of the most vulnerable in our nation. Protest in America has been essential to ending war, to demanding equal rights, to ending unfair practices that keep citizens marginalized. If we quell protest in the name of patriotism, we are not patriots. We are tyrants.

Would there have been a Civil Rights Act without the Birmingham protests? When Bull Connor unleashed his fire hoses and dogs on the schoolchildren taking to the streets, racial disparities and the violence facing people because of the color of their skin became the issues of the times. With savage images of the brutal attack in the news every day, President John Kennedy had little choice but to push for a Civil Rights Act that demanded equal services and equal rights.

Protests in Selma, Alabama, changed the trajectory of this nation and catapulted the Voting Rights Act into being.”

A recipe for tapioca would be as germane to the NFL protests as the Selma march. There is no definable law, principle or position these protests bring into focus. Let’s check the Ethics Alarms Protest Ethics Checklist against the NFL grandstanding:

1. Is this protest just and necessary?

No. How is it just? How is it necessary?

2. Is the primary motive for the protest unclear, personal, selfish, too broad or narrow?

Unclear and too broad by definition, since no two protesters make the same argument.

3. Is the means of protest appropriate to the objective?

Obviously not. What does football have to do with “racial justice”?

4. Is there a significant chance that it will achieve an ethical objective or contribute to doing so?

None whatsoever.

5. What will this protest cost, and who will have to pay the bill?

It’s already cost the NFL millions. But nobody is protesting the NFL…

6. Will the individuals or organizations that are the targets of the protest also be the ones who will most powerfully feel its effects?

No.

7. Will innocent people be adversely affected by this action? (If so, how many?)

Sure: every single fan who wants to just watch football.

8. Is there a significant possibility that anyone will be hurt or harmed? (if so, how seriously? How many people?)

The relentless politicizing of sports and entertainment harms U.S. society and frays the fabric of democracy. That means everyone.

9. Are you and your group prepared to take full responsibility for the consequences of the protest?

Clearly not: witness the constant complaining that NFL teams won’t hire Kaepernick so their season is dominated by racial politics rather than, you know, football..

10. Would an objective person feel that the protest is fair, reasonable, and proportional to its goal?

No.

11. What is the likelihood that the protest will be remembered as important, coherent, useful, effective and influential?

My guess: no chance whatsoever, unless unintended consequences count, like getting more votes for President Trump and crippling the NFL count.

12. Could the same resources, energy and time be more productively used toward achieving the same goals, or better ones?

It’s hard to imaging what wouldn’t be a better use of resources, energy and time.

Verdict: It’s an unethical protest. There is nothing patriotic about unethical protests. We have a right to protest; as with free speech, that doesn’t make all examples of exercising that right good, and certainly not “patriotic.”

  • However, let me argue in the alternative, as lawyers often do. Let’s say that, as Legend claims, all protests are patriotic. Fine. Then then Charlottesville protest against tearing down a statue of Robert E. Lee was also patriotic. Why, the, was the President attacked—by Legend and Slate, among others, for not condemning it?

The Left believes that protests are sacrosanct only when they are doing the protesting. There is nothing wrong or unpatriotic about accurately labeling a dumb, badly-conceived or destructive protest, and this one is all three.

“Football was down. The end. We, the good people who read the NYT, must say no to football. What is known cannot become unknown except by willful, immoral forgetting. No decent person can take pleasure in football. No fit parent can allow a child to take up the game. The era of American football is over. Bury it. We can end the misery through the simple and necessary refusal to watch anymore. Say no, America… or hey, wait a minute. Here’s that nasty President of the United States and he’s calling for a boycott of football…

So, watch the liberal media endeavor to save football from bad old President Trump. He’s a racist. This is his racism once again, stirring up the stupid people who voted for him. Here‘s the NYT today:

“The tweet suggested that the president, who used an expletive on Friday night to refer to players who kneel or sit in protest during the anthem — a practice that took hold last season among some African-American players after Colin Kaepernick, the now-former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, did so to protest racial and social injustice — is bent on deepening a bitter culture-war fight with the N.F.L.

It is a highly charged debate, with unmistakable racial undertones, pitting advocates of free speech who argue that professional athletes should have a right to use their positions to call attention to social issues against those who contend that refusing to honor the anthem disrespects the military and the nation, and that sports is no place for such displays.”

 Ann’s line:

“Let the brain damage continue. We’ve got a culture war to fight.”

Continue reading

The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part One

Ah, the post unwritten!  Just three days ago, I was considering a post about the ethics dilemma I face regarding the NFL. On September 21 I read that four  NFL players ( Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, Philadelphia Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles’ Torrey Smith and former NFL player Anquan Boldin) sent a letter beseeching Commissioner Roger Goodell to make November a month of “social activism,” meaning a month of promoting Black Lives Matters, attacking as police’ and the nation whose public they protect as racist.

“Since 2016, police have shot over 300 men and women in this country. Some of the names and stories are familiar—Jordan Edwards, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, but hundreds of others are not,” the memo says. This is typical of the level of erudition much of the news media, and many voices  on the Left, including President Obama, have been enabling and praising since Colin Kaepernick began his showboating, incoherent  protest against the National Anthem last year. The officer who shot Jordan Edwards was fired and indicted. Trayvon Martin wasn’t shot by police. I can’t imagine how Mike Brown was left off the list, with a reference to “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” Probably a typo.

The next day, we learned that Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots star convicted of murder who hanged himself in prison in April, suffered from a severe case of CTE, “the most severe case” ever seen in a former football player so young.” He was 27. Of course, not a lot of 27 year olds are in a position to have their brains dissected. CTE is the progressive brain disease caused by repeated brain trauma, and there is convincing evidence that the NFL is crippling its players.

My post was going to be about the ethics conflict I face, as one who believes that it is unethical to support the NFL’s profitable mayhem and who also believes that sports should not be made a party to the current progressive indoctrination strategy of making everything in American life a political lecture. The NFL would hasten its own demise, the post would argue, by agreeing to the ridiculous social activism proposal, thus saving brains and lives. Yet this would also exacerbate the divisive and obnoxious trend in the culture wars to politicize aspects of society that should unify us.
What’s a responsible ethicist to do? But it was a busy week, and I thought I could get the piece written over the weekend, which would have been timely if President Trump hadn’t jumped into the issue with both feet. The President ad-libbed an attack on the Kaepernickies during a rally in Alabama, saying,

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump said. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country…But do you know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem. The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway.”

This immediately turned the National Anthem protest stunt launched by the correctly-unemployed former 49ers quarterback into a late-developing ethics train wreck, and rendered my planned ethics quiz moot. So before anything else stupid happens, let me get down what I hope will be some clarifying observations.Observations:

  • This one is simple, and paramount: Nobody pays to go to sporting events to see continuations of the political disputes and debates they watch sports to avoid. Sports is entertainment, and entertainment is escapism. The same goes for music concerts, movies, plays and musicals. A football player making me watch his half-baked “protest” on the field is no more welcome than the cast of a musical making me sit still to hear its partisan ranting after the show.

Sporting events and other popular entertainment are crucial because they unite society, even if its members disagree passionately on other matters. It is dangerous and unhealthy to remove this crucial oasis of relief from debate, especially now. This should be obvious. It isn’t obvious only to full-time activists who don’t care about the purpose of entertainment or the needs of their audiences. Their objective is to achieve a political agenda by any means possible, regardless of the damage to civil society.

  • A term being used a lot lately on conservative websites is “normals,” describing the Americans who don’t regard politics as the sole focus of their waking hours, and who resent, as the Wall Street Journal termed it, The Politicization Of Everything.

It’s a useful distinction, and there is no question that the President, as misguided and inappropriate as his remarks were,  wins the argument with the many, many millions who just want to watch their favorite teams without being bombarded by political bombast and grandstanding.

  • The NFL could have and should have stopped this train wreck before it left the station by simply re-stating the same standards it had consistently maintained for decades. Players are welcome to have political views and to take part in demonstrations and other activism, but not while wearing their uniforms, and not on the field. Almost exactly a year ago, a player was told by the NFL that he could not wear cleats commemorating 9/11.

Why then did pro football allow Colin Kaepernick to make a far more divisive and incoherent political statement on the field later in the year? The answer is cowardice and abandonment of integrity in the face of race-based politics, the same reason the University of Missouri capitulated to racialist demands by its football team. Most of the players in the NFL are black, so the mostly white leaders of the NFL decided to avoid a confrontation. In doing so, it aligned itself with groups and positions that a large segment of the NFL’s fan base abhors, resulting in lost ratings and revenues. This was a breach of business ethics. The NFL’s business is football, not picking sides in the culture wars.

  • Yesterday, over a hundred NFL players “took a knee” during the National Anthem to protest…something…as the news media cheered them on. This was predictable, and the big question is whether the President prompted the reaction intentionally. I am certain he did not; we know by now that Trump  just blurts stuff out without considering consequences of any kind. The US doesn’t need any more division now, and Trump’s crude outburst was indefensible. Presidents should not comment negatively on the conduct of citizens when they are acting within their Constitutional rights. Nor should they interfere with the policies and disciplinary decisions of private businesses, which he did, and which President Obama also did when he endorsed and defended Kaepernick’s stunt last year.

Both were equally inappropriate and unethical, and abuses of power, influence and position. Of course, Obama’s statement was more dignified and articulate than Trump’s—whose wouldn’t be?—and everything Obama did was greeted with swooning and cheers from the media, while anything this President does is presumed to be an abomination.  They were still two sides of the same unethical coin. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: An NFL Wife, On The Private Facebook Fearful Spouses Of Future CTE Victims Support Group Page

“It’s scary to think about the future and the ‘what ifs’ … if it’s what he loves, I have to support it.”

What? No, you don’t!

The above anonymous quote from a feature about how 2,000 wives of past and current NFL players share their fears and console each other as the evidence mounts that their husbands are likely to spend their final years as tortured, brain-damaged victims of their sport and burdens on their families illustrates how delusional supporters of the NFL money machine have become.

It also shows, to depressing degree, how people will rationalize and justify conduct that cannot be rationally defended.

If an unmarried NFL player without family responsibilities chooses to shorten his life and cripple himself in exchange for a brief career in the limelight and a lot of money, that’s his stupid choice to make. Then the only other responsible parties are the cynical and corrupt sport that knowingly pays him to make that choice, the amoral and greedy corporations that make such cruelty worth the NFL’s while, and the ethics alarms deficient football fans who get their Sunday thrills watching young men slowly disable themselves. Continue reading

When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: A Coach With CTE Continues To Allow Young Players To Risk Brain Damage

…but he felt really guilty about it, so that’s OK.

The New York Times had a very strange sports story yesterday. Its subject was the late Don Horton, a prominent assistant coach at Boston College and North Carolina State for nearly 20 years who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease but was also experiencing symptoms linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated hits to the head strongly linked to football. The sensitive reporter, Bill Pennington asks,

“Was his deteriorating health, Horton wondered, a consequence of his many years as a football lineman?” Even worse, he worried, was he responsible for exposing hundreds of players to the kind of head trauma now impairing his life? After all, as he had recruited and encouraged scores of athletes to play major college football….There was only one way to be sure if he had C.T.E. His brain would have to be examined post-mortem, the only way to confirm the disease since there is no reliable test for the living. At first Horton balked, but as his cognitive difficulties intensified, he relented and even insisted that the findings of his brain examination be made public.”

The Times article makes this sound like a noble and brave resolution of his crisis of conscience. It was not, however. Having his brain dissected after his death was no sacrifice at all; Horton would be dead, of course.  In the meantime, Horton, despite his symptoms and his wife’s investigation into them, continued sending young men out to get their brains beat in.

We learn,

In 2009, seven years before Horton died, [Horton’s wife] called Chris Nowinski, a co-founder and the chief executive of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, and told him that she thought her husband had C.T.E. She also raised her suspicions with Horton’s doctors, but they said that, even if true, it would not change the course of his treatment.

Horton continued his duties at North Carolina State.

“He never missed a day of work and still produced great offensive linemen,” said Jason Swepson, an assistant coach at North Carolina State at the time. “You could see him struggling sometimes, but he never opened up about it because, I think, he didn’t want to feel like he was letting the group down.”

At home, however, Horton’s illness was leading to a variety of changes, physically and philosophically. His daughters, Libby, 14, and Hadley, 9, had begun playing soccer, but Horton pointedly refused to allow them to head the ball in games or in practices, aware that some studies had linked heading to brain injury.

“Don told them, ‘If I ever see you head the ball, I’ll run onto the field and yank you off myself,’” Maura said.

Although Horton kept his misgivings about football’s potential consequences within his household, he talked about it regularly.

“Don would ask, ‘Are we just carrying this cycle on?’” Maura Horton said. “That was a question I couldn’t answer. But it’s definitely the right question to ask.”

It’s not just the right question to ask, it was a question with an obvious answer, and both Hortons knew it. YES he was just carrying the cycle on. YES, he was continuing to coach college players when he had first-hand, personal knowledge of the horrible fate in store for some or many of them as a result, and said nothing.Was he responsible for exposing hundreds of players to the kind of head trauma now impairing his life?” If he refused to let his daughters head the ball while playing soccer, we know he was responsible, and so did Coach Horton. Was he in denial? Was he willing to let his player risk crippling cognitive impairment because he wouldn’t and couldn’t give up the only job he knew? Why does the Times suggest that there was any question about his culpability or breach of duty?

Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Jon Gruden

youth-football

“There are a lot of geniuses that are trying to damage the game, and ruin the game. Do you feel it? There are a lot of geniuses that want to eliminate all sports, including recess. Not on my watch, and clap your hands if you’re with me on that!”

   —-Jon Gruden, ESPN analyst and former NFL coach, speaking at last week’s annual U.S.A. Football convention, the three-day  meeting of  the national governing body for amateur football.

This will be my annual Super Bowl week post,  one of the “watch the game if you have to and enjoy your nachos, just understand that by doing so you are supporting a billion-dollar industry that pays young men to cripple themselves and that is covering up the real risks of brain damage as long as it can” essay that I have written here the last few years.

The New York Times reports that U.S.A. Football is experimenting with a radically altered  version of the game for kids that is designed to reduce head trauma:

Each team will have six to nine players on the field, instead of 11; the field will be far smaller; kickoffs and punts will be eliminated; and players will start each play in a crouching position instead of in a three-point stance…

“The issue is participation has dropped, and there’s concern among parents about when is the right age to start playing tackle, if at all…There are, legitimately, concerns among parents about allowing their kids to play tackle football at a young age,” [Mark Murphy, the president of the Green Bay Packers and a board member at U.S.A.] continued, “so they can look at this and say they’ll be more comfortable that it is a safer alternative.”

Later we are told that the new, supposedly safer version will only be tested in a few locales, and that it may be years before the new rules are widely instituted. And how many kids will sustain brain damage in the meantime, I wonder? From the Times piece…

Continue reading

The Warped Values Of NFL Fans

nfl-poll

Yahoo Sports posted an infographic on polling results regardingthe ongoing national anthem protests following the example of  San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Part of it shows that 44 percent of NFL fans would likely stop watching NFL games if more players protest the movement.

This suggests that 44% of NFL fans have more  ethical objections to a sport that panders to hypocritical, Black Lives Matter-supporting dim bulbs like Kaepernick than to the fact that the same sport pays young men to cripple themselves while raking in billions and denying that there is a “causal link” between the concussions it routinely inflicts on players and the debilitating brain disease that is being found in autopsies of more former NFL players than not.

This month a class-action lawsuit was filed against Pop Warner, the nation’s largest youth football league. It alleges that the organization knowingly put its young players in danger by ignoring the risks of head trauma. The complaint also accuses USA Football, the youth football arm of the N.F.L. that  creates football helmet safety standards, of failing to protect football-playing kids from the long-term consequences of repeated head hits, while ignoring medical research (as described in the documentary “League of Denial” and the film “Concussion”) that has raised serious concern about whether football is a safe sport, especially for children.

The suit was filed in federal court in California by Kimberly Archie and Jo Cornell, whose sons played football as youngsters and were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, a neurological condition linked to repeated blows to the heads. In March, Pop Warner settled a lawsuit with a family whose son played Pop Warner football and later committed suicide. He was found to have CTE. Continue reading

Watching the Super Bowl Last Year Was Unethical. This Year It Is Indefensible.

superbowl-50

Next year, it will be close to criminal.

The American public can no longer plead ignorance when it comes to supporting, financing and enabling the cynical exercise in human carnage for cash that is known as professional football. Since the last Super Bowl was played, “Concussion” visited the movie theaters, putting in dramatic form the undeniable facts exposed in the documentary “League of Denial.” Both “Concussion’s” director and its star, Will Smith, have stated in interviews that they don’t think they can enjoy watching football any more.Reaching this conclusion should not require the experience of making a movie  about the facts of the deadly concussion epidemic that the NFL blithely promotes, nor months of bringing to life a script describing how players have been misled and lied to in order to keep them sacrificing their bodies, minds and future to the greedy maw of a billion dollar. It should only require logic, humanity, decency, and bit of sacrifice.

In just the last several days, the casualty list of NFL stars found to have damaged their brains has lengthened significantly.

Former Oakland Raiders star quarterback Ken Stabler’s brain was found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, the concussion-triggered brain disease. A day after that announcement, the late Colts star quarterback Earl Morrall’s brain was found to be similarly damaged.  Stories were published around the same time about former Minnesota Viking linebacker Fred McNeil, who died in November and was also suffering from CTE. He had become a lawyer after his playing days, but began losing his memory and ability to concentrate. He had violent mood swings, and by his mid 40s, had lost his career, his job, his family, and his home. Former NY Giants star and famous broadcaster Frank Gifford died last year: he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy too.

On September 8, former Giants safety Tyler Sash was found dead at age 27 of an accidental overdose of pain medications at his Iowa home.  The results of an autopsy announced at the end of January showed that Sash already had advanced CTE. So did the brain of a 25-year-old former college football player whose brain was discussed in a February article in “Neurology Today.” From the case study:

The case, reported in the January 4 online issue of JAMA Neurology, involved a young man whose cognitive, mood, and behavioral symptoms progressively worsened following a history of 10 concussions incurred while playing football from age 6 till his junior year in college.

The patient completed a neurocognitive battery of tests prior to his death (due to an unrelated cardiac infection) at age 25. Although those tests revealed multiple deficits, and his symptoms steadily worsened for three years after he stopped playing, a consensus panel of clinicians blinded to his pathology report was unable to reach a primary diagnosis of CTE.

“Although CTE was considered,” the report stated, “the lack of delay in symptom onset, his young age, and his family history of depression reasoned against CTE as the primary diagnosis. Consensus members thought that neuropsychological performance, while impaired, did not discriminate postconcussive syndrome or major depression from CTE.”

That pathology report, however, was conclusive for a diagnosis of CTE, based on mild ventricular dilation, hippocampal atrophy, and pathological lesions of hyperphosphorylated tau consisting of neurofibrillary tangles, neurites, and astrocytes around small blood vessels found at the sulcal depths of the frontal and temporal lobes.

It’s not just the NFL that is crippling young men. It’s college football too. Continue reading

Did You Enjoy Your Pro Football Today? Here’s What You Were Cheering For…

brain_dissect08

From “Frontline”:

Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University have now identified the degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in 96 percent of NFL players that they’ve examined and in 79 percent of all football players. The disease is widely believed to stem from repetitive trauma to the head, and can lead to conditions such as memory loss, depression and dementia.

In total, the lab has found CTE in the brain tissue in 131 out of 165 individuals who, before their deaths, played football either professionally, semi-professionally, in college or in high school.

Any other non-essential industry that carried this much risk of crippling injury and death for its employees would be immediately the object of public protests, activist action, new government regulation and major fines and sanctions. Because of all the money involved and because of an ongoing effort by the NFL to deflect attention from its unconscionable business (there was more uproar over Tom Brady’s suspension than there has been over the concussion scandal), players are still getting brain-injured every Sunday, Monday and Thursday while the crowds cheer, the beer flows and the networks cash in. Parents still steer their kids into playing tackle football, and the carnage continues.

Yes, pro football is an exciting game. Too bad that keeping it exciting kills people, but it does. The game isn’t worth it.

No game is.

I wonder how long it will take for that to sink in?

Some Final, Hard Words Before Kick-off

cteliving

I made this comment to the main post on the Super Bowl, and decided that the point is important enough to elaborate on a bit and post here.

I’ve  become depressed talking to people on Facebook and elsewhere about the post. They don’t even pretend to have a real argument. Some fall back on the same rationalizations I explored in the post: one guy on Facebook’s rejoinder consisted of writing, “why worry about this when Congress and the White House are full of liars.” And people “liked” that response, which makes no sense at all.  The rest of the determined Super Bowl fans say, “Yeah, you’re right, but I like football and don’t want to think about it.”  That just is not a rational, ethical response to learning that your support is perpetuating a corrupt system that is exploiting and hurting people. It isn’t.

The NFL is not on the same scale of evil as slavery (yeah, I know, but we need the slaves to keep our lifestyle, so I don’t want to think about it) or the Holocaust (Yeah, but I don’t know any Jews, and the country’s doing well, so I don’t want to think about it) or a daughter-molesting husband (Yeah, but he’s a good provider, and I love him, so I don’t want to think about it). Sure, this is a game, but the process of self-delusion, corruption and passive acceptance of evil is exactly the same. Tell me how it isn’t.

And you know, it takes a lot less sacrifice to stop making it profitable for the NFL to lie and pay young men unto dementia and suicide than it did to reject slavery in the South, or Nazism in Germany, or even for an abused wife to report her husband for raping their daughter…because it is just a game. You can live a very happy life, a full life, a fun life, without the NFL being part of it. It’s corrupting American society and you. Don’t you they see that?

I guess slavery and the Holocaust didn’t have cool commercials, so that’s something…