The Future of Football

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Ben McGrath, staff writer at the New Yorker, talks about what the new science on the severity and regularity of concussions means for the future of football.


Ben McGrath

Comments [8]

Suggestion for the mom that called in and was trying to pick a sport for her athletic son. From my experience raising two sons in NJ, rowing is a sport that would satisfy his physical growth (very strenuous physically). It will form lasting bonds (older son made some BFFL) and opens up wide doors to the best colleges in the US. When older son went to a private HS in the 90's his school had no rowing. One of his best friends (third in the class) belonged to a private rowing club and was the only one that went to an Ivy league school (Princeton). Ten years later, my son got a teaching position at the HS and started a rowing club.. in their first year they won the Novice devision in the Nationals and two rowers (out of 6) were recruited by Ivy league schools. Four years later one of them was the coxin in his varsity boat that won the Eastern Sprints (most prestigious race in crew)... now his BFFL is his former highschool coach.

Feb. 09 2011 11:29 AM
keith from ny

@Jay regarding rugby. Ironically, I think there may be comparitively fewer injuries in rugby due specifically to the lack of protective gear. Players are less likely to make a dangerous play at risk of injury to themselves. All sports involve some sort of risk, but typically it is the wear and tear, or hyperextension kind of thing. Ironically adding more protective gear to football makes it more dangerous. I think the same may be true for the contrast between mixed martial arts and traditional boxing. The protective gloves in boxing can lead to a repetitive impact injury on the brain that causes permanent damage.

Feb. 09 2011 10:57 AM
Mike from Manhattan

I think the caller's mention of the coach is very important. When I was a senior in a Catholic high school in Indiana, a friend and class mate, who had been a track star for 3 years, went out for football. He died of a head injury during a preseason practice. One year later, a sophomore who was a budding star fullback was knocked senseless on a play. The head coach pulled him out of the game. The line coach, who was an ultra-macho idiot, began calling him "sissy" and other names, and when the head coach was busy the line coach sent the kid back into the game. He had a head injury on the next play, was hospitalized and was not allowed to play football again. The head coach went to the school administration and insisted that he would resign if the line coach was not fired. They accepted the head coach's resignation and a year later promoted the line coach to athletic director of the school. I have had only daughters myself, but I would not have allowed any son of mine to play football and I stopped watching the game.

Feb. 09 2011 10:56 AM
josh from Brooklyn

Sure, football is incredibly popular, all-American, etc. It's hard to imagine discouraging kids from playing it, I suppose.

Then again, dogfighting, cockfighting, dogracing, and bullfighting have been extremely popular, culturally entrenched "sports" as well. Yet all of them, to various degrees in various places, have been at least pushed toward public disfavor if not banned outright over concern for the *animals* involved.

It seems like we could stand to push a lot harder on football here when it's the welfare of our kids and their entire futures at stake.

Feb. 09 2011 10:50 AM
keith from New York

"American" football is by nature a violent contact sport. This is why the players need so much protective gear, and still they get badly injured. I can strongly recommend a great alternative called "Ultimate" (frisbee). This fast growing, fast paced game has all the athleticism of football, only it is non-contact, based on mutual respect (not a war mentality), and all players on the field can play receiver, running back and quarterback at the same time! (no blockers required).

Feb. 09 2011 10:48 AM
Nick from UWS

More nanny-state hand wringing. If a bunch of cretins want to run into each other and bash their brains out, that's their choice, and then they have to deal with the consequences. Nothing is more important than learning the process of personal responsibility for one's actions.

Feb. 09 2011 10:46 AM
dboy from nyc

It's just now that folks are beginning to understand that the pursuit of this moronic sport is deleterious to your health???

Feb. 09 2011 10:44 AM
Jay from Brooklyn

Along the lines of the "false sense of safety from equipment" argument. How does american football compare to rugby in terms of serious injury?

Feb. 09 2011 10:42 AM

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