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The risks of playing football

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Effie Moore Salem's image for:
"The risks of playing football"
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In the United States football is the sport no one wants to downsize; it's a way of life and what would happen if suddenly, like the earlier shocking news that smoking caused lung cancer, medical scientists ruled out football? That has not happened but there are hints this could be a future possibility with reports of brain concussions causing dementia and other brain disabilities later in life. 

"In Boston an extensive study of the brains of dead athletes and others shows that most had signs of brain damage  after suffering repeated head injuries." What prompted this discussion? "Boston University School of Medicine reports on the autopsies of 85 brain donors."

What pathologists found when dissecting the brains of the corpses spell out facts hitherto unknown about the dangers of football. Brain cells were destroyed when the brain tissue showed tangles of protein. It is well to note that all of the brains subjected to study were not football players but were "hockey players, boxers, military combat veterans." Those involved at the medical school had nothing against football players or any other sport but were suspicious of what might have caused their particular condition which may or may not  have resulted in their death. 

Football and brain injuries are cited because football is such a rugged game and heads are pounded repeatedly but head injuries of all kind cause destruction of delicate brain tissue.

The future of football

The future of football depends on the mothers of future would-be players. Fathers too have a say, especially those who themselves have been engaged in rugged sports. Do they want this for their children? They have been there and while it's too late for them to decide, they now understand the dangers involved. Most mothers, on the other hand, do not and have never encouraged their small ones to play little league football, but up to now most of their fears were over ridden by pleas from the young ones. That may be changing. A few facts presented to the youngsters may well give them a more sensible viewpoint. 

Is there a safer way to play football?

That may sound sissified or laughable, but if football could be played with no tackling and with less danger to the players, would this go over? What's so great about knocking the guy down and taking the ball away from him? Why not attempt to catch it on the fly or earn it by some other less dangerous tactics. Hard hitting need not be a part of the game. 

(In all honesty this article is being written by one who knows little about football, is not a sports enthusiast, but is one who believes that life is precious and is to be respected. It's one thing to bravely carry on amid dangers when forced to, but football is a contrived game. It serves man's egotism and not his common sense.)

Origin of football 

Humans were not born with a sense of tackling and rough play: therefore it could have started as far back as cavemen days when it was necessary to be rough and tough to defend one's territory. An example of what could have happened now and then: A he-man with an especially build and a surplus of testosterone saw what he wanted and took it. If the victim was likewise strong and brave, the winner with the loot, whether it was a vivacious gal, a hunk of beef, the fattest fowl or whatever, found the fight to be something to brag about. Soon he was a hero. That egged him on. 

Whether true or not, this kind of thinking, at first simply 'survival of the fittest' caught on and did not become obsolete when humanity learned about morals and what's right and what's not right. With consciences becoming ever more the norm, rules of game playing based on fairness of play  made rough and tumble sports socially acceptable. 

Football emerged from rugby, an English sport. Football is thought to be an American original, but what is original about the game is the 'line of scrimmage and the system' of downs added to the game by Walter Chauncey Camp. Other input to the early football US style was added by John Heisman and others. College football in the United States began its upward move early in the 20th century.    

Rivalry is a good sometimes and other times not so good. In a friendly game where no live  human tissue gets traumatized, rivalry in game playing is a great way to relieve tension and to while away free time away from the daily grind of work. But is this knock-down drag out tackling sport a friendly and safe game? Only time, and booing mothers, may be the final determining factor. And it might be said they won't be looking for cheering crowds with their 'touchdown' but a healthy long life with no brain injuries. 


More about this author: Effie Moore Salem