Is American Football Dead or do Fans just Want to See Death?

Adding an edit here from a NY Times article I just saw.

“Insurers will be tightening up their own coverage and make sports more expensive,” said Robert Boland, who teaches sports law at New York University. “It could make the sustainability of certain sports a real issue.”

The N.F.L. contends that the insurers, some of whom wrote policies in the 1960s, have a duty to defend the league, which has paid them millions of dollars in premiums. The question for the N.F.L. is not whether the insurers are required to help the league, but rather what percent of the league’s expenses each insurer is obliged to cover.

In the comment section the number of people calling for child abuse charges and the end of youth concussionball shows that traction is being gained.

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An article recently published (Everything Supposedly Bad For The NFL Is Good For The NFL) outlined some disturbing news about fans.

Taylor’s story doesn’t center on head injuries, the way most recent NFL exposes have. Just before last weekend, we all learned that Junior Seau’s brain tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This was part of a different story about football brutality. The head-injury crisis is what happens when the NFL hides the full brutality of the game from the players. It’s a transparency crisis. If the NFL had been as forthright about the dangers of the game as Taylor was in the Miami Herald, had it acknowledged the sport’s toll on players (and paid out disability accordingly), it wouldn’t be staring at the mother of lawsuits.

We like to wring our hands over football violence, but if I’m being honest, the fact that the game means so much to someone like Jason Taylor that he’s willing to play with a catheter running straight to his heart, that it means so much to the next generation of stars that they’ll knowinglycripple their brains to play it—all that only raises the stakes for me, watching from the comfort of my couch. It makes the game itself more meaningful. This is no mere sport. This is serious life-and-death shit. I must watch it.

If you’ve ever watched Red Zone Channel, you know that host Andrew Siciliano has occasionally (and surely with the encouragement of network executives) called the NFL the greatest reality show on television. And he’s not lying. The best reality shows feature people debasing and destroying themselves for your amusement, and the NFL is no different, which is why the NFL can never lose, no matter how many disasters befall it. When the show is good enough—and holy shit, was it good last weekend—you can justify it any way you like. And the more transparent its ugliness, the more alluring it becomes.

Couple this with new studies from Purdue University that indicate that High School football players are suffering from brain injuries without ever having a concussion. Because concussions are from a series of accumulated hits and not just one big hit.

“The most important implication of the new findings is the suggestion that a concussion is not just the result of a single blow, but it’s really the totality of blows that took place over the season,” said Eric Nauman, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and an expert in central nervous system and musculoskeletal trauma. “The one hit that brought on the concussion is arguably the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Fewer than 69,000 of the 1.1 million high school football players go on to play in the NCAA. Less than 2 percent of college players make it to the pros. Translation: The vast majority of the kids playing on Friday nights are exposing their brains to big-time hits but will never see the big time.

That’s not hyperbole.

That’s the direction research points, making this less of an NFL issue and more of a public health one.

Of the 50 cases of CTE that researchers at Boston University have confirmed, nine were college players and six played only in high school, including 17-year-old Nathan Stiles, the youngest person to date to receive a CTE diagnosis. Stiles collapsed during the last game of his high school career and was on life support hours later. An autopsy revealed he died of second-impact syndrome, when the brain sustains an injury before it has properly healed from the first.

The cynic could dismiss Stiles’ case, but then there’s the research from Purdue University.

Last year, Purdue released a two-year study of a high school football team which found that 17 of the players did not suffer concussions yet showed significant changes in their brain function. What kind of changes? The kind that have been associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

The big questions becomes “Are parents that allow their underage children to play American football to be charged with child abuse?”

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 19th, 2013 at 15:58 and is filed under other. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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