It has to happen, and will academics or athletics win?
Football is a brutal game with some terrible consequences at the non-NFL level.
According to football researcher Matt Chaney, who writes ChaneyBlog.com, there were 29 football related fatalities along with another 193 which fall into a category that Chaney calls "survivor casualties". A good many of the 222 incidents that Chaney wrote about occurred on the high school level. Taxpayers pay for student-athlete insurance as part of a school budget. At what point does football become not worth it for junior high and senior high schools?
In 1905, when people who didn't like football were calling for the sport's demise, there were 23 deaths. In a 106 year period, football has not become any safer.
Congress wants the National Football League and the National Football League Players Association to come up with a human growth hormone testing procedure. Politicians are more interested in catching cheaters using illegal substances than the safety of football from youth leagues up.
Football is a tough way of life. Shilstone's concerns about hypertension and morbid obesity in 2003 seem to have not gained any real traction in a public discourse but they are real concerns. The concussion/dementia issue is gaining traction and the NFL will vigorously defend the football world at trial.
But meanwhile life goes on. I take a pill a day which isn't bad and workout. A lot of my 55-year-old contemporaries who played in the NFL would trade places in a minute but I would not trade places with them. I know the stories about memory loss, families being torn apart by the injuries suffered on the field, the poor medical treatment and mentality to get a player back in the game as soon as possible and depression from football battles. The surgeries to fix broken bodies and the wives who try and take care of busted up ex-jocks. I know of their fight for health and pension benefits from the National Football League and how their players association never looked ahead and demanded "Money Now" in labor disputes instead of down the road medical care. And I know many of them have no insurance and are dependent on the government safety net or SSI and Medicare.
That is the carnage of maybe the collateral damage of football.
Football junkies will be enthralled with a bunch of guys running around in T-shirts and shorts listening to carefully choreographed sound bites or watching video streams of Indianapolis scouting combine action. Then those same junkies will start to look forward to the NFL Draft which is really an illegal restraint of trade but is allowed because of the collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players.
You do kind of wonder if all of the NFL wannabe’s know what they are getting into and if they are getting the right information about their career choice in what is a high paying, hazardous field that could shorten their lives, give them brain damage, leave them with permanent injuries that will require later in life surgeries, not to mention in some cases the hypertension problems and the morbid obesity of some.
This is football from the Pop Warner level to the NFL.
Evan Weiner, the winner of the United States Sports Academy's 2010 Ronald Reagan Media Award, is an author, radio-TV commentator and speaker on "The Politics of Sports Business." His book, "The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition" is available at bickley.com and Amazon and featured on Google books.