“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.
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?
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Men are pigs, and how dare they stereotype us?
Alizia Tyler, the provocative arch-conservative Ethics Alarms iconoclast whose comments here are frequently far longer than the posts she comments on, delivers the Comment of the Day. It involves the controversy regarding the Harvard soccer team’s cruel “scouting report” on the sexual attributes of their female counterparts, and the college’s punishment it brought down on the team’s members.
Alizia’s particular focus is the response by the members of the women’s team, which was not the primary focus of the Quiz. Indeed, Alizia’s post is what first brought all of it to my attention. My reaction was, simply, that it is pure, indefensible bigotry. This isn’t about “men,” this is about jerks, and the letter tells us that these women think the two are one and the same. They are not. This is the same as blacks asserting that all whites are racists. It is a bigotry double standard. When women posture in public forums about their innate superiority, the reaction should be exactly as indignant and condemning as when a man says that women should be kept barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. It never is, however. Misogyny is disgusting. Misandry is cool.
If Harvard president Drew Faust had integrity and was not a biased, feminist social justice warrior, she would end the women’s soccer season too. It is, however, a useful microcosm of what men can look forward to under President Hillary.
Alizia has more to say. Here is her analysis of the letter, a Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz: The Harvard Soccer Team’s “Locker Room Talk”: